When detected early, liver cancer is highly treatable and, in many cases, curable, yet the number of new cases of liver cancer in the United States has increased by 43% in the past 16 years, whereas the incidence of other cancers is on the decline. This past October, during Liver Cancer Awareness Month, the Global Liver Institute started working to raise more awareness for the prevention of liver cancer.
The Global Liver Institute advises patients with liver disease to undergo screening for cancer every 6 months and stresses the -importance of being aware of the potential signs and symptoms of liver cancer.
Melanie Thomas, MD
“Unlike most other cancers, for which the cause(s) are unknown, the cause of liver cancer is well known, is identifiable, and thus liver cancer is highly preventable with regular screenings,” said Melanie Thomas, MD, Associate Center Director for Experimental Therapeutics, Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute Spartanburg Regional Health System, Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The signs and symptoms of liver cancer are often silent in the early stages which is why it is so frequently overlooked. Most often the result of liver damage first signs may include jaundice, right-sided abdominal or shoulder blade pain, or a lump in the right upper abdomen. However, many of the warning signs are nonspecific, such as weight loss and fatigue. Sometimes the complications of liver cancer, such as a bile duct obstruction, anemia, or bleeding are the first symptoms. If signs are pointing to liver cancer, tests may be done for an accurate diagnosis. ■