Cancer (Hepatic Cancer)
Liver cancer, also known
as hepatic cancer, is cancer that occurs initially in the liver tissue, and grows directly at the expense of
hepatic cells (liver cells). The development of the tumor occurs most often as the result of a chronic
hepatic disease such as cirrhosis or hepatitis B or C, and in rare cases on a healthy
Hepatic cancer is one of
the most aggressive cancers of the digestive system. But numerous researches have been increased in recent
years to improve the survival rates. In certain countries patient can expect to live longer with the disease
after treatments. For additional information, please see liver cancer
Metastatic or Primary
A primary liver cancer
refers to a malignant tumor that has developed directly from the liver cells. Sometimes, however, the liver
can also be affected by metastasis, cancerous cells from another organ elsewhere in the body (colon, breast…)
that have detached from the tumor site and migrate to the liver. The treatment of primary liver cancer and
liver metastases are completely different.
Anatomy and Functions of
The liver is a complex
large organ which occupies the upper part of the digestive system. It is located on the right side of the
abdomen, just below the ribs. It is composed of two lobes. These lobes are essentially made up of cells
called hepatocytes that are organized in small groups known as lobules, which group around a central vein.
The liver is the only organ that is able to regrow or to regenerate lost tissue. After ablation, provided
there is at least a quarter of hepatic tissue left, new cells can be manufactured quickly, allowing the
remaining liver tissue to swell and regain the size to function properly.
The liver accomplishes
many functions to help the body stay healthy. Among its many functions, it produces bile, which helps the
body absorb fats and cholesterol. It stores glucose, vitamins and minerals from digestion and releases them
into the blood at the right time when the body needs them. The liver filters out toxic which can be absorbed
by eating, drinking, or from the environment. It also helps to store and process nutrients absorbed by the
intestines, make proteins that contribute to blood clotting. And finally, it also plays an important role in
the regulation of the levels of glucose (blood sugar) and certain hormones in the body.
The disease occurs when a
group of cells, due to certain carcinogenic factors, becomes malignant and reproducing anarchically without
dying by the natural programmed cell death (apoptosis). Most of the times, the
tumor is long advanced before producing any symptom. Please see liver cancer symptoms for more information.
Types of Liver
Although there are
different types, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, also called malignant hepatoma) represents about 90% of
primary liver cancers. It takes its name from liver cells from which it develops, hepatocytes. This tumor
tends to occurs on liver damaged by disease; although rare cases have been found to form in individuals with
a normal liver.
Other rare forms of liver
cancer can affect cells of the blood vessels, angiosarcoma, which attacks the lining of blood vessels of the
liver; or biliary tract, such as cholangiocarcinoma, which affects the bile duct that leads bile from the
liver to the gallbladder.
Types of Liver Cancer (see more details)