Liver cancer - patient education

Liver cancer - patient education

Oak Valley Health's patient education pages share the skills, knowledge, and habits patients and families need to know to cope with a daily health issue. We hope this information can influence patient behaviour to improve health outcomes and provide you with a sense of control and autonomy.

Learn more about the risks, causes, and treatment of liver cancer

What is liver cancer?

A tumour in the liver is known as liver cancer. The liver is located on the upper right side of the abdomen, just below the ribs.

What are the most common types of cancer in the liver?

The majority of primary liver tumors are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), with cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) comprising most of the remaining cases. HCC is a primary liver cancer that typically develops in the setting of chronic liver disease, particularly in patients with cirrhosis or chronic Hepatitis B infection.

What increases the risks?
  • You are a male
  • abuse alcohol
  • have hepatitis B or C
  • smoke
  • diabetes
  • You have hemochromatosis (body stores too much iron)
  • Non alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • You are exposed to aflatoxins
  • You use anabolic steroids or oral contraceptives
  • Obesity
  • You have schistosomiasis
How do I know that I have liver cancer?
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling itchy
  • Bruising and bleeding
  • Pain on the right side of abdomen, shoulder, back
  • Jaundice
  • Dark coloured urine
  • White stools
How is this treated?
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Ablation
  • Embolization
  • Chemoembolization
  • Radioembolization
If you have been diagnosed with liver cancer, please contact your doctor or health care provider immediately if you are experiencing any of the following:
  • You are having trouble eating due nausea and vomiting
  • You feel weaker
  • The pain gets worse
  • You feel depressed or anxious
If you have been diagnosed with have liver cancer, please get help immediately if you are experiencing any of the following:
  • You feel confused
  • The pain in your abdomen increases
  • Your abdomen and legs swell
  • You have a fever, chills and body aches
  • You bleed continuously
  • Show signs of jaundice such as yellowing of eyes and skin, dark urine, clay-coloured stool, worsening fatigue
Where can I get more information?

Reference: Liver Cancer. (2021, June 08). Elsevier Inc: ClinicalKey for Nursing. Retrieved from here.