Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer
If you’ve been diagnosed with liver cancer, it can be a shock. Often the beginning stages of liver cancer exhibit nonspecific symptoms — or sometimes no symptoms at all.
Once symptoms develop, they often include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling full after a small meal
- Nausea and vomiting
- Enlargement of the liver (can be felt as a mass under the ribs on the right side)
- Enlargement of the spleen (can be felt as a mass under the ribs on the left side)
- Abdominal pain
- Pain near the shoulder blade
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Itchy skin
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Generalized weakness
- White, chalky stools
During the early stages of liver cancer, other disorders may develop called paraneoplastic syndromes. Physicians who are adept at recognizing symptoms of paraneoplastic syndromes may be able to diagnose liver cancer earlier.
Symptoms of paraneoplastic symptoms include:
- Elevated calcium levels
- Low blood glucose levels
- Elevated red blood cell count
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Breast enlargement
- Testicular shrinking in males
With a laundry list of symptoms, liver cancer is actually often not diagnosed until later stages. This is because sometimes people have no symptoms. Other times, symptoms are nonspecific and may be misdiagnosed for other conditions.
If you’ve been diagnosed with liver cancer, understanding the possible causes may be helpful. Sometimes, the cause of cancer is not clear. However, there is often a clear-cut cause.
- People with certain strains of hepatitis infections (hepatitis B or hepatitis C) are prone to liver cancer.
- Cirrhosis can cause scar tissue to form, which may increase the chances of developing liver cancer.
- Hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, and other inherited liver diseases may also increase the risk of liver cancer.
- People with diabetes also have a higher risk of liver cancer.
- Alcoholism leads to liver damage, which increases the risk of developing liver cancer.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease may increase the risk of liver cancer.
Next page: how to deal with liver cancer symptoms.