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Liver Cancer Symptoms, Risks, and Diagnosis

Liver Cancer Symptoms, Risks, and Diagnosis

In the early stages of liver cancer, symptoms aren't usually acute or intense. When symptoms do occur, they vary from person to person.

Liver cancer symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Jaundice.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Hard lump on the right side, below the rib cage.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Pain or swelling in the upper abdomen.
  • Pain around the right shoulder blade.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Fever.
  • Jaundice, which causes dark urine and yellow skin and eyes.
  • Feeling of fullness after a small meal.
  • Itching.
  • Swollen veins on the belly.
  • Becoming sicker if you have hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Certain types of liver cancer also produce hormones that may cause:

  • High blood calcium levels may cause constipation, nausea, or confusion.
  • Low blood sugar levels may cause tiredness or a faint feeling.
  • Enlarged breasts or shrinking of testicles in men.
  • A high red blood cell count may cause redness in the face.

These symptoms do not mean you have liver cancer. But it's vital to talk to your doctor about your symptoms to rule out other health problems.

Liver Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors increase a person's chance of getting cancer. Sometimes, people can change their habits or jobs to reduce or eliminate liver cancer risk factors.

Risk factors and warning signs are similar for each type of liver cancer.

Factors that increase your risk of liver cancer may include:

  • Cirrhosis — this disease, which causes long-term liver damage, can lead to liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis B or hepatitis C — people with these inflammatory liver diseases are at a higher risk of liver cancer.
  • Family history — people with close relatives who have had liver cancer may be more at risk.

Liver Cancer Diagnosis and Staging

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center specialists use state-of-the-art technologies to detect, diagnose, and stage liver cancer.

Staging makes sure each member of the care team knows the exact type, size, location, and spread of the cancer.

Tests to diagnose the type and stage of your liver cancer may include:

  • CT scans — this imaging scan provides a 360° view of the body and creates 3D images. CT scans show a higher level of detail and take more accurate pictures than x-rays.
  • MRI scans — this imaging test uses radio waves and magnetic energy combined with computer enhancement to take cross-sectional pictures.
  • PET-CT scans — this approach combines PET and CT imaging technologies. A low level of radiation and small amount of radioactive dye create a detailed image that reflects your body’s biochemical activity.
  • X-ray — this test uses electromagnetic radiation to take pictures of structures inside the body.
  • Ultrasound — this test measures the echoes of high-frequency sound waves as they bounce off different structures of the body to produce images.

Liver Cancer Prognosis and Outcomes

Our liver cancer experts plan treatment based on the stage or type of your cancer. Your care plan will include your personal preferences and goals.

Your care team will work with nutrition and pain specialists to help manage your care. Our goal is to make sure the entire care team's focus is on you — not only your liver cancer.

Your liver cancer prognosis will depend on:

  • Your diagnosis.
  • Your general health.
  • How well your care team expects your liver cancer treatment plan to work.

In all cases, we will work at our highest level of expertise to achieve the best results possible.

Contact Us About Liver Cancer Care

To learn more about Liver Cancer or to make an appointment, you can: