Liver cancer is one of the fastest growing diseases. Therefore, the treatment of liver cancer abroad is an urgent need, which helps to get the widest list of available treatment options in one place. This significantly increases the chances of recovery.
It is no secret that the liver plays a key role in metabolism. Therefore, any disturbances in the functioning of the liver interfere with the normal life of a person.
Causes and first signs of liver cancer
Liver cancer is an acute disease. And its complexity lies in the fact that the clinical manifestations of liver cancer are extremely diverse. Constant weakness and fatigue, sudden weight loss, mainly gastrointestinal disorders (loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting), perversion of taste, severe pain in the abdomen during physical exertion, swelling of the legs and lower back, possibly an increase in body temperature, general weakness, anemia, dizziness are the symptoms of liver cancer. Almost all patients complain of a lack of working ability.
The most objective sign of this disease is an increase in liver size. In the early stages of the development of the disease, the liver only slightly exceeds the hypochondrium, but during the later stages, it becomes very large. Therefore, in the later stages, patients feel tightness in the stomach, yellowing of the skin as well.
At this stage of cancer development, the liver becomes dense while pulsation and acquires a tuberous surface. Such a symptom is often accompanied by fever, ascites. The latter speaks of the development of portal vein thrombosis, peritoneal carcinomatosis, as well as the appearance of metastases in the periportal nodes.
The specific cause of liver cancer has not yet been detected. However, experts are convinced that previous parasitic and infectious diseases, such as amoebiasis, malaria, syphilis, tuberculosis, and cirrhotic changes in the liver, are predisposed to the development of this type of cancer.
Stages of liver cancer
Careful diagnosis using advanced equipment allows determining the stage of tumor development. As a rule, the disease develops in four stages.
- Stage 1 is characterized by the absence of external manifestations of the disease, the appearance of weakness, rapid fatigue of the body and discomfort in the right side of the abdomen. At this stage of development, the tumor can be of any size. It is important that the tumor does not yet extend beyond the liver into the blood vessels, other organs, and lymph nodes. But after a few weeks, the size of the liver will increase.
- Stage 2 is characterized by the growth of a cancerous tumor into the blood vessels, with the exception of the ones that are located afar. The second stage may include not only one tumor but also several tumors, the size of which does not exceed 5 cm. Here the list of symptoms is replenished with nausea, vomiting, pain in the right hypochondrium, digestive disorders.
- Stage 3 is characterized by swelling of the legs and lower back, jaundice, spider veins, and red palms, and is divided into three separate sub-stages:
- The appearance of several tumors appears the size of which exceeds 5 cm. Lymph nodes and distant organs remain intact.
- One of the tumors grows in the large veins of the liver, namely in the portal or hepatic. Lymph nodes and distant organs still remain untouched.
- Metastases appear in neighboring organs with the exception of the bladder. The tumor does not affect the lymph nodes and distant organs.
- Stage 4 is divided into two sub-stages:
- Several tumors that grow into the internal organs, as well as in the blood vessels, but metastases do not spread to distant organs.
- This stage is also known as the terminal stage, during which cancer cells reach not only neighboring organs, blood vessels and lymph nodes, but also distant ones.
Types of Liver Cancer
In fact, liver cancer is divided into many different types. The most common typology is distinguished on the basis of the mechanism of origin and is divided into:
- Primary liver cancer;
- Secondary liver cancer
The second type develops from cancer metastases of other organs.
The most common is the division of primary liver cancer into the following types:
- Hepatocellular Carcinoma (hepatoma), originating from primary cells and occurring in about 5% of patients diagnosed with liver cancer;
- Cholangiocarcinoma (cholangioma) - A rare form of cancer, emanating from the epithelium of the bile ducts, and remains asymptomatic for a long time;
- Mixed hepatocellular cholangiocarcinoma (cholangiohepatoma) - a tumor containing cells of both types.
In addition, there are three forms of primary liver cancer:
- Solitary Large Hepatocellular Carcinoma - with a solitary unit;
- Nodular form, which represents a whole conglomerate of nodes; and
- Diffuse Infiltrative Hepatocellular Carcinoma - cancer that develops from cirrhosis.
And that’s not all, because exist:
- Cystadenocarcinoma is a rare form that is more common in women, resembles a cyst in structure, characterized by weight loss and pain in the lower abdomen. Such a tumor grows quickly and begins to pressure the pelvic organs;
- Fibrolamellar carcinoma - a form of liver cancer that occurs in young people under the age of 34, is accompanied by pain in the right hypochondrium; can be eliminated by removing affected areas of the liver;
- Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma does not proceed as severely as other forms, develops slowly and is characterized by abdominal pain;
- Hepatoblastoma is actually a child form of liver cancer, which is usually diagnosed in children under 4 years old; characterized by an increase in the size of the abdomen and weight loss.
- Angiosarcoma is commonly found in older adults and occurs due to interactions with chemicals. This form of cancer develops rapidly because cancer cells spread through blood vessels throughout the liver. Perhaps this is one of the most severe forms of liver cancer.
Undifferentiated sarcoma is another severe form that progresses rapidly and is characterized by fever, an increase of the glucose level in blood. Here, the tumor spreads rapidly to neighboring organs and gives metastases almost instantly.
It is believed that protein-vitamin deficiency, alcohol, and drugs play a role in the development of liver cancer. The fact is that these factors lead to cirrhosis of the liver, against the background of which cancer often develops.
In addition, risk factors include:
- Gender. According to statistics, liver cancer is more often diagnosed in men;
- Liver diseases. Chronic infection is the most important risk factor that can actually cause liver cancer;
- Hereditary diseases that significantly increase the risk of developing liver cancer;
- Cirrhosis often leads to the development of liver cancer, as well as its causes - alcohol, hepatitis B and C or excessive accumulation of iron in the liver;
- Aflatoxins. Products affected by aflatoxin B1, which appears due to improper storage of food, also increase the risk of liver cancer.
- Anabolic steroids. Their prolonged use increases the risk of developing the mentioned disease.
At risk are patients who are carriers of hepatitis B, hepatitis C with liver fibrosis of at least F2.
Diagnosis of liver cancer CMC Hospital
Diagnosis of cancer can be carried out through three categories of methods:
- Laboratory diagnostics (clinical, biochemical analysis of blood, albumin blood test, electrolytes, coagulogram, general urinalysis, Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel),
- Instrumental diagnostics (ultrasound of the abdominal cavity and retroperitoneal space, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging of the abdominal cavity with contrast;
- Morphological diagnosis (biopsy).
The most informative will be the detection of embryo-specific globulins in blood serum, which is found during the hepatocellular carcinoma. Sometimes this is the only method for diagnosing liver cancer in the early stages of development. This disease does not have symptoms until the tumor acquires large sizes.
Liver cancer treatment abroad
The main method of liver cancer treatment is combination therapy, including radical surgical intervention. As only surgery can improve the results. In more advanced cases, organ transplantation is performed.
Such drastic treatment measures should be carried out under the supervision of experienced professionals and modern equipment at CMC Hospital. Only such a leader in the medical field with enormous experience can significantly improve the situation through additional measures.
Surgical treatment of liver cancer
Surgical treatment, like any other therapy, is selected individually taking into account the specific condition of the patient. Therefore, the surgical treatment of liver cancer at CMC Hospital has extremely positive results.
Today, liver resection is the golden standard in the treatment of liver cancer. This treatment method provides the best prognosis and guarantees the patient's recovery in the shortest possible time. But such a method is only available if the tumor has not damaged the functionality of the organ.
Resection takes place in three scenarios:
- The right or left lobe of the liver is removed;
- Both liver segments are removed;
- Segmental resection (part of the liver is removed).
For a safer implementation of this method, a two-stage hepatectomy technique is used. Surgical treatment of liver cancer also includes liver transplantation, which means the replacement of the affected organ with a donor transplant without pathologies.
Radiotherapy will be useful in cases where liver resection is impractical.
In such cases, the following techniques are used:
- Minimally invasive methods for local tumor destruction (this includes radiofrequency ablation;
- Radiation therapy destroys the tumor, but healthy tissues remain unaffected;
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (implies a multi-beam effect on cancer cells through tissues);
- Transarterial embolization (this method blocks the blood vessels that feed cancer).
Chemotherapy for the treatment of liver cancer is available in cases of inoperable neoplasms. Therefore, chemotherapy will be most effective when injecting drugs into the artery supplying the tumor area. This will inhibit the growth of the tumor.
At CMC Hospital, all patients are monitored and regularly examined by instrumental and laboratory methods.