Liver cancer explained

Liver cancer explained

My name is Aamir Khan, I’m a liver surgeon
at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. The liver is the powerhouse of the body, involved
in regulating many different body functions as well as regulating different aspects of
metabolism within the body. When there is obstruction to the flow of bile
from a liver tumour then patients can notice as their first symptom
that their urine has gone dark in colour, their stools are paler in colour and they
may experience itching. Early on in the illness patients often experience
very vague symptoms which could be attributable to a number of
things, which accounts for the vast majority of patients
presenting quite late. These could include general lethargy, weight
loss, malaise or just not feeling quite right. More specifically liver cancer can cause yellowness
of the eyes which may be noticed by the patients themselves
or indeed by their friends or relatives. Patients may go to their GP and get routine
liver function blood tests done which are just simply routine blood tests.
Alterations in these blood tests that are picked up by the GP
may trigger more specific liver function assessments including ultrasound of the liver,
as well as viral hepatitis screening tests. The sort of factors that are considered when
defining the treatment plan for each individual patient
include the patient’s age and physical condition, their other core morbidities, including any
other illnesses that are on board and of course the state and function of the
liver itself because often these cancers, primary liver
cancer, can occur in the background where liver function is not normal.
The treatment options for patients with primary liver tumours
include assessment of whether these tumours are feasible to be removed via surgery,
whether they are suitable to be referred for consideration for liver transplant assessment.
If this is not feasible then other alternative treatments may be considered.
For example, using radiofrequency energy to try to burn these tumours,
which can achieve good long-term outcomes and something that we call arterial chemoembolisation
which is a useful treatment where the patients that have these tumours,
the tumour is poisoned or given chemotherapy via one of the arteries
that supplies it and after that the artery is blocked, in effect
starving the tumour. Approximately three and a half thousand new
[liver] cancers are diagnosed each year within the United Kingdom,
partly due to continued excessive alcohol consumption
and also liver tumours that are linked to obesity are increasing. But I think the message that we want to give to patients with liver problems is that
specialist treatments are available and often long-term survivorship can be achieved. For information, help, or if you just want a chat call the Macmillan Support Line on
0808 808 00 00 or visit

5 Replies to “Liver cancer explained”

  1. Mr Khan thank you for explaining this. It is quite helpful.👏👏👏👏👏You also used layman's language so thanks for this as well.

  2. Hey there
    My uncle's 42 yrs old
    He neither drinks nor smokes
    Bt between these 2 months he lost 14 kgs of his weight nd have continuous pain in his right part of stomach
    According to the ct scan report,liver cancer has been noticed nd it has spread all over the liver
    How can it be cured sir And how're the chances?

  3. My father has lever cancer in fourth stage now they are giving chemotherapy can we reduce it please help us by providing information

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