Liver cancer is the second most common form of metastasized cancer-cancer that has spread from another affected organ. In fact, only 1 to 2 percent of all cases of liver cancer originate in the liver. When cancer does begin in the liver, it is Usually caused by cirrhosis, a hepatitis B infection, or exposure to certain environmental toxins and industrial compounds. Liver cancer occurs in men twice as often as it does in women, and is Usually found in people over the age of 50. Alcoholics have a very high risk for developing liver cancer.
Since many people with liver cancer do not have any noticeable symptoms, usually it is not diagnosed until it is very advanced. Liver cancer Is a very dangerous condition that is usually fatal; the majority of patients live for less than a year after being diagnosed with liver cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
In its early stages, liver cancer often produces no symptoms. When it reaches later stages, the most common symptoms are:
- Pain or bloating in the upper right abdominal
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Appetite and weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- General fatigue and weakness
Conventional Medical Treatment
If you notice even subtle abnormalities in your health, including any of the symptoms of liver cancer, see your physician immediately. To diagnose liver cancer, your doctor performs a thorough physical examination, takes blood tests, and may order a CAT scan or ultrasound examination. To confirm a diagnosis, a liver biopsy also may be necessary.
Most cases of liver cancer are inoperable. In some cases where the cancer is detected early, chemotherapy or radiation can reduce the size of the tumor to an operable size. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are used to kill cancer cells. In advanced cases, when surgery is not an option, chemotherapy or radiation can keep the cancer from spreading to other tissues. Advanced cases of liver cancers are rarely cured.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture – This modality may be used to improve energy flow in the liver meridian and carry toxins out of this diseased organ.
Acupuncture – Acupoints that may be stimulated in the treatment of liver cancer are Liver and Conception Vessel on the chest, Liver 3 on the top of the foot, and related points in the ear.
Chinese Herbal Therapy – Several studies have shown that a Panax ginseng extract seems to not only inhibit the growth of liver cancer cells, but to stimulate protein synthesis in these cells, causing them to revert to their healthy, precancerous state.
In a U.S. study, 46 people with Stage II primary liver cancer were given Fu Zheng herbal therapy along with chemotherapy or radiation. Twenty nine of the subjects survived for one year and ten survived for three years. There is also an extract of soy that is used for cancer therapy.