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Hepatocellular carcinoma – causes, side effects and treatments at

Thursday, April 19, 2018 by

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), more commonly known as liver cancer, is a primary liver malignancy and is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and worldwide.

HCC is responsible for more 12,000 deaths a year in the U.S. and is more common among men than women, with a higher incidence rate in Eastern and Southern Asia, Middle and Western Africa, Melanesia, and Micronesia/Polynesia.

Known symptoms and risk factors of hepatocellular carcinoma

Most of the symptoms of HCC are a result of liver damage. They include:

  • Abdominal pain or tenderness
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the back or around the right shoulder blade
  • A hard lump just below the rib cage
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Blood in the stool
  • Internal bleeding
  • Ascites (an accumulation of fluid around the liver and intestines)

Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (scarring) are the most important risk factors for the development of HCC. These conditions arise from excessive alcohol consumption.

Cigarette smoking is also associated with a significant increase in the development of HCC.

Body systems harmed by hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma primarily targets the liver, which lead to a cancer-related death.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent hepatocellular carcinoma

Diet plays a crucial role in treating and preventing HCC. Many herbs and nutrients have an influence on liver cancer treatment and prevention. Some of these herbs and supplements include:

  • American ginseng — This herb contains phytochemicals known as ginsenosides, which have strong antioxidant activity that helps decrease the size of cancerous tumors in different parts of the body.
  • Turmeric — This herb has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which help treat many health conditions, including liver cancer.
  • Garlic — Garlic helps reduce inflammation caused by liver cancer. Chew three to six cloves every day to treat the condition.
  • Cumin — Cumin also contains antioxidants that help fight liver cancer.
  • Resveratrol — Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in grape skins, peanuts, berries and red wine, which possesses potent growth inhibitory effects against various human cancer cells including HCC. Resveratrol can be absorbed rapidly and accumulate in the liver.
  • Silibinin — Silibinin, a polyphenolic flavonoid, is the major biologically active compound of milk thistle. It is well known that milk thistle is safe and well-tolerated, and it protects the liver from drug or alcohol-related injury
  • Mangosteen — A fruit whose extract has potent substances called xanthones.

Certain foods, such as milk, fruits and green leafy vegetables, also reduce the likelihood of developing HCC.

Treatments, management plans for hepatocellular carcinoma

Advanced stage of HCC requires liver transplant. For earlier stages, HCC may be managed through supplements, such as:

  • Selenium — This micronutrient was found to reduce the density of microvessels and metastasis, which makes it an anti-metastatic element and a preventive agent against cancer.
  • L-Carnitine — This naturally occurring amino acid was found to prevent the development of HCC, as it protects the liver from free radicals caused by inflammation.

Where to learn more


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), more commonly known as liver cancer, is a primary liver malignancy.

HCC is responsible for more 12,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

Excessive alcohol consumption is a main risk factor for HCC.

Most of the symptoms of HCC are a result of liver damage, such as jaundice and fluid buildup in the abdomen.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of developing HCC, as well as avoiding or quitting alcohol intake.

Sources include:


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