Coping with... LIVER CANCER

WOMAN'S WEEKLY|February 25, 2020

Coping with... LIVER CANCER
This cancer can be primary, from liver cells, or secondary, spread from other cancers

The liver is the largest organ of the body, containing a variety of cells that perform over 500 jobs, many to clean the blood. The main tasks are: to metabolise fats, proteins and carbohydrates; to produce and excrete bile, aiding digestion; storing minerals, vitamins and energy as glycogen; synthesising blood proteins and clotting factors; and clearing and excreting drugs, hormones and cholesterol.

Primary liver cancer is rarer but there are many cell types, all of which could produce cancers. The commonest primary is a hepatocellular carcinoma, which occurs more in people with long-term liver diseases such as hepatitis B or C, and in those who drink heavily or have cirrhosis. There is also a higher risk in people with fatty liver, diabetes and a family history.

Secondary liver cancer occurs where cancer cells spread through the blood (metastasis) from many other cancer types, such as breast, bowel, pancreas, stomach and lung, and skin tumours. Less common neuroendocrine tumours can also come from the hormone-producing tissue of the stomach, lung and bowels, and move in the blood to the liver.

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February 25, 2020