Hepatocellular Cancer

The Liver is the largest organ of the human body that helps the body to digest food, store energy, and remove toxins. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of primary liver cancer that starts within the liver. The other common cause of cancer in liver is by spread of cancers from other organs like intestine, stomach, ovary etc.

The outcome of hepatocellular carcinoma depends on age , sex, stage, underlying disease in liver, liver function loss, state of viral markers.


No symptom may appear in the early stage of hepatocellular carcinoma. However, with the progress of cancer one or more of following symptoms may appear:

  • Pain in the upper right portion of abdomen
  • Feeling of heaviness or lump in upper belly
  • Swelling or Bloating
  • Feelings of fullness & loss of appetite
  • Weakness or intense fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Dark urine and Pale or chalky bowel
  • Fever


Physical examination: Before proceeding to various diagnostic tests, a doctor may first conduct a Physical examination and ask various questions like:

  • Do you feel any pain in the belly?
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • What you eat today?
  • Do you have a poor appetite?
  • Have you lost weight?

Various tests performed by a doctor to diagnose hepatocellular carcinoma, include:

Blood Tests: are conducted to measure liver function and AFP value.

Imaging Tests: are conducted to look for tumors in the liver. Some of the popular image testing procedures include; ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, and advanced imaging methods, such as magnetic resonance elastography.

Liver Biopsy: is performed by taking a sample of liver tissue for cancer testing.


Out of many treatment options used by oncologists, a few are highlighted below;

Chemotherapy: A combination of chemotherapy drugs is directly targeted into the liver. This process is also known as “chemoembolization.” The combination of chemo drugs helps to block the artery and thereby kill the tumor by starving it of blood supply.

Alcohol Injection: Also known as percutaneous ethanol injection is used along with ultrasound sound waves to find the location of the targeted region in the body. A thin needle is used to inject ethanol (alcohol) to destroy the cancer cells.

Cryoablation and Radiofrequency Ablation: A tumor is destroyed by freezing it with a thin metal probe, while a patient is under anesthesia. A cold gas is passed through probe into the tumor to kill the cancer cells.

Surgery: can be performed to remove a portion of liver affected with cancer. This procedure is known as “partial hepatectomy.”

Liver Transplant: If a partial hepatectomy is not sufficient to remove a cancer, a liver transplant can be performed. Liver transplant is a major surgery and cancer patient has to get on a waiting list for a donor. New liver is usually taken from someone who recently died and having the same blood group and similar body size like a cancer patient. Since the availability of donor, a patient may have to wait for a long time.

Radiotherapy: High-energy rays are used to kill cancer cells.

These are two types:

External: High-intensity beams of radiation are targeted at specific spots on chest or stomach.
Internal: Tiny radioactive particles are injected into the artery that sends blood to the liver. These radioactive particles block or destroy the blood supply to the tumor cells in the liver.

During your cancer treatment, you have to suffer from many side effects such as stomach upset, nausea or vomiting. So, it will be essential for you to change your eating habits by staying away from fried or spicy foods. In a day, eat 5-6 small meals instead of traditional three meals.

In many cases, a right treatment at right time makes cancer go away. But in some cases, cancer may not completely go away and can return again. In this case, a regular follow-up treatment is essential to keep cancer in check for as long as possible.

For more information and any query related to you Hepatocellular Cancer, you can visit Chandigarh Cancer and Diagnostic Center (CCDC) to consult best cancer experts.