The causes

  • Hepatitis B virus: 55% of the world’s liver cancer is caused by infection with hepatitis B virus. Carriers has 100 times higher than non-hepatitis B virus carriers in getting liver cancer.

  • Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis is a fine scarring of the liver which can be caused by a variety of factors including heavy alcohol drinking over a long period of time or as a side effect from the hepatitis B virus infection.

  • Hepatitis C: According to Hospital Authority, hepatitis B and hepatitis C carriers have 150 times higher chance of getting liver cancer.

  • Heavy alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption may cause alcohol-related liver hardening, which can develop into liver cancer.

  • Hepatitis infection: Hepatitis viruses can also increase the risk of developing cirrhosis and later liver cancer. . 55% of the world’s liver cancer is caused by hepatitis B and according to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, hepatitis B and C carriers have 150 times more risk of liver cancer.

  • Aflatoxins: Found in peanuts, corn, nuts and grains, aflatoxins have been found to cause liver cancer in animal experiments.

  • Pollutant hazards: Exposure to specific environmental and pollutant hazards for an extended period of time can cause liver cancer.

  • Bile duct cancer: The causes of most bile duct cancers are unknown, but they do occur to a slightly greater extent in people with inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis.

  • Liver fluke: In Africa and Asia, infection with a parasite known as the liver fluke is thought to cause a large number of cholangiocarcinomas.

The symptoms

  • A vague discomfort in the upper abdomen which may become painful due to enlargement of the liver.

  • Pain can sometimes also be felt in the right shoulder. This is known as referred pain and occurs because the enlargement of the liver stimulates nerves beneath the diaphragm (the sheet of muscle under the lungs) which are connected to nerves in the right shoulder.

  • Loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea and lethargy.

  • High temperature and feeling shivery.

  • If the bile duct becomes blocked, bile will build up in the blood causing jaundice. This will cause the skin and whites of the eyes to go yellow and may make the skin very itchy. Jaundice also causes dark urine and pale stools.

  • Jaundice also causes dark urine and pale stools.

  • Sometimes fluid can build up in the abdomen causing swelling known as ascites.

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