Liver cancer is a cancer that's found anywhere in the liver and can sometimes start in your liver (primary) or spread from another organ (secondary).
But what are the symptoms of liver cancer and how is it treated?
Here’s what you need to know.
What are the symptoms of liver cancer?
According to the NHS, how serious liver cancer is depends on where it is in the liver, how big it is, if it has spread, if it's primary or secondary and your general health.
Liver cancer may not have any symptoms, or they might be hard to spot.
However, the symptoms are the same if the liver cancer starts in the liver (primary liver cancer) or spreads from another part of the body (secondary liver cancer).
Symptoms of liver cancer can include:
- your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow (jaundice), you may also have itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual
- loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
- feeling tired or having no energy
- feeling generally unwell or having symptoms like flu
- a lump in the right side of your tummy
Other symptoms can affect your digestion, such as:
- feeling or being sick
- pain at the top right side of your tummy or in your right shoulder
- symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling full very quickly when eating
- a very swollen tummy that is not related to when you eat
When should I see my GP?
You should see a GP if you have:
- a lump in your tummy
- lost a noticeable amount of weight over the last 6 to 12 months without trying
- other symptoms of liver cancer that get worse or do not get better after 2 weeks
At the appointment, the GP may feel your tummy and they may also listen to your chest.
They may then refer you to see a specialist in hospital for more tests if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated.
This may be an urgent referral, usually within two weeks, if you have certain symptoms. However, this does not definitely mean you have cancer.
What is the treatment for liver cancer?
The NHS notes that liver cancer is often treatable, but it can be difficult to treat.
The treatment you have will depend on:
- if the cancer started in the liver (primary) or spread from somewhere else (secondary), but treatments for primary and secondary liver cancer are similar
- the size and type of liver cancer you have
- where it is
- if it has spread
- your general health
Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, using heat to destroy the cancer (thermal ablation), and using targeted medicines.
The specialist care team looking after you will explain the treatments, benefits and side effects, work with you to create a treatment plan that is best for you, and help you manage any side effects, including changes to your diet to help you digest your food.
You will also have regular check-ups during and after any treatments, and may also have tests and scans.
The NHS says that if you have any symptoms or side effects that you are worried about, you should talk to your specialists.