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According to a recently released report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, liver cancer death rates jumped 43 percent from 2000 to 2016 despite other cancer death rates declining over the same period. To learn out more about this challenging diagnosis, we turned to our own board-certified gastroenterologist, Issam Nasr, MD.
Understanding Liver Cancer
“Hepatocellular carcinoma is a primary tumor of the liver that typically occurs in patients with chronic liver disease, including chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection, iron overload from hemochromatosis or liver cirrhosis,” explains Dr Nasr. “It’s reported that liver cancer results in approximately 800,000 deaths globally per year. It is the 5th most frequently diagnosed cancer worldwide in adult men and the 9th most for women. In the United States, most common risk factors include hepatitis-C infection, heavy alcohol consumption, and fatty liver disease that is associated with obesity, hypertriglyceridemia and diabetes.”
Aside from these other risk factors you may also be at risk if you have a family history of liver disease. Dr. Nasr encourages those with these risk factors to see their doctor regularly, be counseled about your risk factors and then regularly screened for signs of tumor growth.
Diagnosing and Treating Liver Cancer
“Diagnosis is usually made by combination of blood work, imaging studies, and initially a liver ultrasound,” says Dr. Nasr. “Infrequently, a liver biopsy is needed. However, most often, an MRI of the liver with intravenous contrast is enough for an accurate diagnosis.”
Here’s the silver lining: If the tumor is discovered early, and it’s less than 2 centimeters in size, multiple treatment options are available. Treatment options may include surgical resection (removal of part, or all of the liver) and liver transplant, both of which can cure the cancer.
If discovered in the advanced stages, your treatment may involve trans arterial chemoembolization (TACE), a minimally invasive procedure that cuts off blood flow to the tumor, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a technique used to reduce pain, with or without systemic chemotherapy.
“In late stages, liver cancer can be associated with wide range of symptoms such as yellow jaundice, abdominal pain, fever or intra-abdominal bleeding,” says Dr. Nasr. However, in early stages, it is usually a very silent cancer which is why those with risk factors should be routinely screened for signs.”
Where to Get Screened
The oncology specialists at Florida Hospital are experts in liver cancer and have the knowledge, experience and cutting-edge technology to accurately diagnose liver cancer and create a treatment plan to fit your needs and preferences. Our goal is to protect your health and empower you to take action with the specialists and screening tools that can lead to early diagnosis and cures.
If you have any of the risk factors involved with liver cancer, if you have symptoms of liver cancer, or if you’ve been diagnosed with liver cancer, time is of the essence. With early diagnosis your chances for beating this disease and living your best life increase exponentially. Please visit our site or call (386) 586-1810 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nasr and get the care you need today.