Being the largest internal organ, the liver plays an essential role in maintaining your body and keeping you healthy. Although it can regenerate itself, we cannot ignore the health of the liver. It is impossible to live without a functioning liver. Did you know liver cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world today? Even in our country, we are witnessing growing casualties related to liver cancer.
The problem with liver cancer or any other type of GI cancer is the late manifestation of symptoms. If you do not undergo routine medical checkups at your gastroenterologist, cancer may spread to other organs and prove to be a fatality in extreme cases. Metastatic liver cancer is such cancer.
In contrast to primary liver cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma or hepatoblastoma, metastatic liver cancer does not originate in the organ. It means that the cancer cells originated outside of the liver, but they metastasized (spread) to the liver because of a lack of medical attention and timely treatment. It is for the same reason liver cancer specialists call it “secondary liver cancer,” “liver metastases,” and “stage IV or advanced cancer.”
Often, 70% of colon cancer or rectal cancer metastasizes to the liver. One of the primary reasons for the metastasis is the portal vein. It connects the blood supply from the intestines to the liver. Other types of cancers as breast cancer, cancer of the esophagus, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, etc., can lead to metastasis of the liver.
Are there any Symptoms of Secondary Liver Cancer?
As liver metastasis does not begin in liver cells, it is difficult to look for symptoms in the earlier stages of the disease. However, if cancer metastasizes to the liver, you may experience the following signs:
>> Abdominal discomfort
>> Pain in the upper right abdomen
>> Bloating and itching
>> Weakness and fatigue
>> Loss of appetite
>> Unintentional weight loss
>> Enlarged liver
>> Nausea, vomiting, and fever
>> Edema/swelling of legs
>> Dark-colored urine
If you see consistent vomiting, blood in vomit or stools, swelling in the legs or the abdominal region, or jaundice, consult an experienced liver cancer specialist immediately. It is essential for patients with a history of GI cancer.
How will the Liver Cancer Surgeon diagnose Metastasis of the Liver?
If you have a history of GI cancer or notice symptoms of GI troubles quite frequently, you must visit a surgical gastroenterologist/liver cancer specialist for routine checkups. If the doctor identifies enlargement of the liver, he may suspect a metastasis of the liver and ask you to undergo the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:
a. Liver function tests help in understanding how your liver is functioning. With the help of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels, the doctor will identify whether the cancer is primary or secondary liver cancer. fenben