HEALTHPLAN MAGAZINE

Why You Should Stay Vigilant For Liver Cancer Symptoms Health Tips

Liver cancer is an incredibly deadly condition with over 5,700 liver cancer deaths in 2017. Worryingly, the number of liver cancer deaths has risen by more than in the past decade.

With the slow progress in liver cancer research and treatment, survival rates for liver cancer patients remains low, with only 6-37% of patients living five years after their diagnosis. However, with all cancers, the quicker it is diagnosed and treated, the better the survival rates are.

The rise in liver cancer

There are many contributing factors to liver cancer such as diabetes, obesity and other conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is essential to realise that liver cancer is not just associated with alcohol consumption. In 23% of cases, liver cancer is linked to obesity and being overweight. Furthermore, 5% of the cases are due to smoking.

Currently, almost 6,000 people in the UK alone are diagnosed with liver cancer every year. However, Cancer Research expects this to rise by as much as 38% by 2035. In the USA, around 42,000 are diagnosed with liver disease every year.

With diagnoses increasing, it is more important than ever to be aware of liver cancer symptoms. So, what are the signs to look out for?

Symptoms of liver cancer

Sadly, many liver cancer symptoms can be challenging to spot, which is why it is often only diagnosed during the later stages. However, several warning signs can help you to stay alert to the condition.

Some of these include;

  • Jaundice – This is where skin and eyes become yellow in colour. It can also lead to itchy skin, nausea, dark urine and light faeces.
  • Losing weight – if you lose 10% of your body weight without a change to your lifestyle, this should be a warning.
  • Swollen abdomen – Cancer can cause the liver to expand, which can cause tummy pain and swelling.
  • Loss of appetite – You may find that you feel full very quickly or are not as hungry as you usually are.
  • Swollen, visible veins across the body – this is because of pressure in the liver can cause blood to back up
  • Joint pain in the right shoulder – this lesser-known symptom comes as a swollen liver can press on the nerves that connect to the shoulder joint.
  • Cirrhosis - a condition commonly associated with excessive alcohol consumption.

How to reduce the risk of liver cancer

It is important to realise that around half of liver cancer deaths could be avoided with healthy lifestyle tweaks. These include;

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Reducing alcohol consumption.

So if you are concerned about your current lifestyle or are spotting some of the symptoms listed above, seek advice from a medical professional.