Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Last Updated: 24th July, 2022

Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC): The worst severe form of primary liver cancer is the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In patients with severe liver diseases, including cirrhosis triggered by hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection, hepatocellular carcinoma arises more often than not. Throughout the initial stages of cancer, manifestations often do not occur.

Eventually, upper abdominal pain, weight loss and skin yellowing (jaundice) become symptoms. Surgical removal, transplantation, heating or freezing of cancer cells and chemotherapy might be included in treatment options.


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What Is Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)?

Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is a cancer that starts in your liver. It’s completely different from “secondary” liver cancers, which have spread to the liver from other organs.

If diagnosed early, surgery or transplant may, however cure it. In more advanced cases it can’t be cured, but treatment and support can help you live longer and better.

It’s important to remember that you still have control over the decisions you make about your treatment and your life. Make sure you have people you can talk to about your plans, your fears, and your feelings. Ask your doctor concerning support teams, where you can meet people who know what you’re going through.

Your doctor will assist you to perceive your treatment choices. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are few of your options. Immunotherapy and targeted therapy are also options.


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Causes Of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)

Doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes all cases of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC), but some factors have been known which could increase your chance of getting it:

Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) can begin several years after you have had one in all these liver infections. Both are transmitted through blood, such as when drug users share needles. Blood tests might show whether or not you’ve got hepatitis B or C.

Cirrhosis. This serious malady happens once liver cells are severely damaged and replaced with scar tissue. Many things might cause it: hepatitis B or C infection, alcohol drinking, certain drugs, and too much iron stored in the liver.


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Long-Term Heavy Drinking Of Alcohol. Having over 2 alcoholic drinks on a daily basis for several years raises your risk of hepatocellular cancer. The significant higher the threat, the more and more you drink.

Obesity and Diabetes. Both the factors intensify the liver cancer probability. Obesity can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). The higher risk of diabetes could also be because of high hypoglycemic agent levels in individuals with diabetes or from liver damage caused by the disease.

Iron Storage Disease. This causes an excessive amount of iron to behold on within the liver and other organs. People who have it may develop Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC).

Aflatoxin. This toxic agent, developed on peanuts, maize, and other nuts and grains by certain forms of mold, may also develop a hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The U.S. has safety measures that limit aflatoxin within the food provision.


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Symptoms Of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)

You might not have any symptoms when Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is in an early stage. As the cancer grows, you may have one or more of these:

  • Pain within the upper right part of your belly
  • A lump or feeling of heaviness in your upper belly
  • Bloating or swelling in your belly
  • Loss of appetite and feelings of fullness
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness or deep fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Pale, chalky bowel movements and dark urine
  • Fever

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Diagnosis Of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)

Your doctor can provide you with a physical examination and will ask you questions like:

  • Have you had any pain in your belly?
  • Are you feeling weak or tired?
  • Is your appetite down?
  • Have you lost weight?

Your doctor may use tests to help diagnose Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC):

Blood Tests. Your doctor takes a sample of your blood and checks to ascertain if it’s a protein known as Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP).: A fetus has significant levels of AFP, but it drops immediately after birth in most cases. If your blood has a high amount of AFP, it could be a sign of liver cancer or Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC).


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Imaging Tests. Your doctor may ask you to get an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to look for tumors in your liver. An ultrasound creates pictures of your liver with sound waves. A CT scan could be a powerful X-ray that creates elaborate pictures within your body. An MRI uses strong magnets and radio waves to make an image of your liver.

Liver Biopsy. Your doctor might want to remove a sample of your liver tissue and check it under a microscope for cancer cells. It can also be addressed in a number of ways. In one methodology, your doctor removes some liver tissue with a needle that he places through your skin and into your liver. He numbs the area initial therefore you will not feel pain.

Your doctor may additionally do a biopsy by creating a tiny, low cut in your belly and putting a needle into the liver to drag out a sample of tissue. You’ll get anesthesia first, so you won’t be awake while this is going on.


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You have many questions for your doctor:

  • Has my liver cancer or Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) spread?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • What are the side effects?
  • What will reduce my pain and treatment side effects?
  • What kind of follow-up care will I need?

Treatment For Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)?

There are many treatments for Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). It’s a big decision, so work closely with your doctor to make the right plan for you.

Your treatment choices may include:

Radiation. To destroy the cancer cells, it provides high-energy rays. Two types of radiation therapy can treat Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC):

  • External: You are going to lie on a table while a massive machine starts aiming radiation beams at specific areas on your chest or stomach.
  • Internal: A doctor injects small radioactive particles into the artery that sends blood to your liver. These blocks or destroy the blood supply to the tumor in your liver.

Radiation therapy might cause side effects, as well as nausea, vomiting, or fatigue, however, these symptoms get away once treatment is finished.

Chemotherapy. To treat cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma), doctors often place chemotherapy drugs directly into your liver. It’s a process called “chemoembolization.”


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Your doctor puts a skinny, flexible tube into the artery that supplies blood to your liver. The tube delivers a chemo drug combined with another drug that helps to choke the artery. The goal is to kill the tumor by starving it of blood. Your liver still gets the blood it requires through another blood vessel.

You usually get chemotherapy on an outpatient basis, which means you don’t need to stay overnight in a hospital. It can cause side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fever and chills, a headache and weakness. You may also be more likely to get infections, bruising, bleeding, and fatigue. Few of these side effects may be relieved by medication.

Alcohol Injection. This is additionally known as “percutaneous ethanol injection.” The ultrasound system makes sound waves to look at your body’s components allow the doctor to steer a tiny needle through your tumor. Then, to eliminate the tumor, he infuses ethanol (alcohol).


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You usually have this procedure under local anesthesia, which means you won’t feel pain, but you’re awake while this is going on.

Targeted Drug Therapy. The cancer is treated with medication that concentrate on specific changes in cells that cause cancer. Some targeted therapies block new blood vessel growth in tumors. Others target certain proteins found in cancer cells that help tumors grow.

Side effects might include: Exhaustion, rash, loss of appetite, vomiting, discomfort, bleeding, hand and foot blistering, and stomach or intestine wounds.

Immunotherapy. This therapy employs medications to invigorate the figuring and destroying of cancer cells out of your immune system. Immunotherapy drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors are sometimes used to treat Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) or liver cancer.

Side effects can include: fatigue, fever, rash, decreased appetite, pain and an autoimmune reaction involving the lungs, liver, intestine, kidneys, and other organs.


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Cryoablation and Radiofrequency Ablation. In cryoablation, your doctor destroys your tumor by chilling it with a skinny metal probe. While you are under anesthesia, your doctor puts the probe into the tumor and delivers a chilly gas that kills the cancer cells. A similar methodology, called radiofrequency ablation, uses an electric current to kill the cancer with heat.

An operation to surgically remove a portion of the liver. Your doctor might remove the part of your liver that has the cancer, an operation known as “partial hepatectomy.” Healing time varies, but you might have pain and discomfort for the first few days. Medication may support in managing it. You may additionally feel weak or tired for a short while. Some people also have diarrhea and a sense of fullness in the stomach.

Liver Transplant Surgery. If your doctor cannot eradicate your cancer through a partial hepatectomy, he might recommend a liver transplant.

A transplant of the liver is a massive surgery. First, you’re going to need to get a donor under a waiting list. Your new liver will come from someone who recently died and has the same blood type and a similar body size as yours. When donor livers are available, they go to the sickest people on the waiting list. Since you may have to wait a long time for a new liver, your doctor may suggest that you keep up with other treatments in the meantime.


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You may get to stay within the hospital for up to three weeks even after your surgery. It could take you 6 months to a year before you can return to your regular lifestyle. After your transplant, you’ll need to take drugs that prevent your body from rejecting the new liver.

If you are considering a transplant, you’ll need a lot of emotional support. Ask your doctor regarding support groups that have individuals facing identical issues as you. Also raise concerning educational workshops that may justify what to expect before and after a transplant.

Self-Care In Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)

While you are obtaining treatment, there are lots of things you can do to manage side effects and stay healthy.

Since chemotherapy might generally upset your abdomen, you can try changing some of your eating habits. Stay as far away, for example, from spicy or buttery food items. You can additionally attempt eating five or six little meals every day instead of the normal three meals.


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If your treatment causes you to tire, you can try to take short naps. You also might find that short walks can help boost your energy.

If you are stressed regarding your treatment, sometimes deep breathing and meditation might help you relax. Reach out to your family and friends who will offer you emotional support anytime you need it.

Last But Not The Least, Be Hopeful!

For some individuals, treatment makes the cancer go away. For others, the cancer might not get away fully or could come back. If that is the case, you may need regular treatment to keep it in check for as long as possible.


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Your treatment to fight Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) or liver cancer may stop working. When that actually occurs, you might want to concentrate on making certain that you, regarded as palliative care, is as comfortable as feasible. You may not be capable to control your cancer, but you control choices about how you’ll live your life.

You don’t have to deal with things alone. Consider gelling up with a support group, wherever you’ll be able to you share your feelings with others who understand what it’s like.

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