Williams Cancer Institute

Liver Cancer

What is Liver cancer? 

Liver cancer pertains to the abnormal growth of cells found within the liver. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most commonly seen type of liver cancer in adults. This type of cancer can develop by single tumors which increase in size or the presence of many small cancer nodules.


Liver cancer can be caused by certain DNA mutations. A chemical known as aflatoxin has been shown to damage the DNA in liver cells, causing cancerous cells to develop. Hepatitis viruses are another factor that can lead to DNA damage resulting in cancer.


Symptoms for liver cancer can be tricky as these can be symptoms for other medical conditions. According to the American Cancer Society, the following are the most common symptoms for liver cancer:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Jaundice, the yellow skin
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Intense abdominal pain
  • Enlarged liver

Risk factors

Liver cancer tends to have many risk factors that can be taken into consideration. Men happen to be at a higher risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma than women. Certain races such as Asian Americans, Hispanic, American Indians, and African Americans have been shown to have higher rates of liver cancer. People who suffer from cirrhosis will have damaged liver cells leading to a higher risk of developing cancer.

One of the most significant risk factors for liver cancer tends to be infections from hepatitis B or the hepatitis C virus. High alcohol consumption can put you at risk as well.


Since infection from HBV or HCV is so risky, it is highly recommended by the CDC to get vaccinated against HBV to help reduce the risk of hepatitis itself and liver cancer. Practicing safe sex and using precaution while handling needles will help prevent HBV or HCV infections which would lead to liver cancer.

Partaking in daily physical activity, eating wholesome balanced nutrition, and managing stress are some other simple ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and minimize the risks of cancer attacking the body.

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