Wednesday, May 09, 2018 by Ralph Flores
The liver is an important organ in the body: It removes toxins from the bloodstream, creates bile to help with fat digestion, produces substances that aid in blood clots, and processes sugar for energy use. However, like any organ, it’s prone to disease – with one of the most severe being liver cancer, which refers to all abnormal and invasive cell growth that develops in it.
There are various forms of liver cancer. If the disease starts in the liver, it’s called a primary liver cancer.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma/cancer (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer, with some referring to it as “liver cancer.” This type of cancer has two growth patterns: The first is a single tumor that grows larger and expands to other parts of the liver once it fully develops, while the second pattern starts from small cancer nodules that develop throughout the liver. The latter is seen in people with chronic liver damage, and it is the most common type of HCC in the United States. There is another form of HCC called fibrolamellar, but it is rare and usually seen in women younger than 35 years. This form has a better outlook than other HCC types since it does not affect the whole liver.
- Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, also known as bile duct cancer, develop from the cells lining the small bile ducts within the liver. While there are other forms of cholangiocarcinomas, only 10–20 percent of primary cancers are intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas.
- Angiosarcomas and hemangiosarcoma are rare types of cancer that affect the blood vessel linings of the liver. The risk of getting this form of cancer is increased when a person is exposed to vinyl chloride (one of the components of PVC pipes) or thorium dioxide (a compound once used to make X-rays clearer). These two types of cancer are difficult to treat, mainly because they are too widespread once they are diagnosed.
- Hepatoblastoma is a very rare cancer that is usually found in children younger than four years old. While two out of three children diagnosed with the condition is successfully treated, treating it becomes difficult once the tumors have spread outside the liver.
On the other hand, cancer found in the liver that has metastasized from another part of the body is called a secondary liver cancer (metastatic liver cancer). In the U.S. and Europe, this type of liver tumors are more common than primary liver cancer, while the opposite is true for certain regions in Asia and Africa.
Known risk factors and symptoms of liver cancer
The risk factors for primary liver cancer include the following.
- Having hepatitis B or C
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver
- Hemochromatosis, a disease in iron storage
Primary symptoms include feeling a lump, which can be accompanied by pain, on the right side of the abdomen, as well as the yellowing of the skin. However, most cases of liver cancer initially do not manifest symptoms until it is advanced, making it harder to treat.
Body systems affected by liver cancer
If left untreated, liver cancer can spread to other parts of the body because of metastasis. Moreover, a person is at risk of liver failure, given HCC impairs its function. Treating liver cancer may also result in complications because of the toxicity of medication and the effects of radiation.
Food items or nutrients that may prevent or relieve liver cancer
With proper diet, a person’s risk of getting liver cancer can be reduced, or even prevented. According to FindHomeRemedy.com, here are some recommended herbal remedies to attenuate or even inhibit the progression of liver cancer.
- American ginseng contains ginsenosides to help improve the immune system and delay the progression of cancer.
- Astragalus restores immune function in cells, allowing it to work on developing tumors in the liver and reduce it.
- Cinnamon, with its catechins, prevents the growth of cancerous cells.
- Garlic is recognized to prevent free radical damage in the body, a common precursor of liver cancer.
- Green tea has anti-tumor properties and can be used to help treat liver cancer.
- Soy lecithin protects the liver from cell oxidation, but it may have an adverse reaction for some people and cause diarrhea.
- Milk thistle contains silybinin which protects the liver from inflammation.
Treatment and management options for liver cancer
For most types of cancer, healthcare professionals will ultimately recommend surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy as potential treatment options for liver cancer, but an article in Botanical Online states that natural treatments can be used to complement conventional methods.
- A change in lifestyle habits is a must for people who are being treated for the condition. This includes giving up smoking and alcohol, reducing stress, and eliminating contaminants such as fumes. Following a plant-based diet and eliminating meat, processed foods, synthetic dyes, and refined sugars could positively influence the disease.
- Maintaining a positive attitude, despite the condition, promotes recovery in the body. Worrying about it and being depressed do nothing to your body and can even reduce its defenses.
- Physical activities reduce the stress and improve a person’s mood.
Where to learn more
Liver cancer refers to all abnormal and invasive cell growth that develops in the liver. There are various forms of the condition: primary liver cancer for diseases that start in the liver and secondary liver cancer for those that has metastasized from another part of the body.
Most cases of liver cancer initially do not manifest symptoms until it is advanced, making it harder to treat. In some cases, a person is at risk of liver failure, after HCC impairs its function. To treat this type of cancer, healthcare professionals will ultimately recommend surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy as potential treatment options for liver cancer, but natural treatments can be used to complement conventional methods.