Liver Cancer Symptoms
Liver cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men in Singapore, according to the Singapore Cancer Registry. Most people don’t present symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer. Symptoms of liver cancer do appear, however, as the cancer grows or becomes advanced.
The following are the possible symptoms of liver cancer as the cancer progresses:
- An abdominal mass or lump on the right side just below the rib cage
- Discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen on the right side
- Swollen abdomen caused by fluid build-up (ascites)
- Pain near the right shoulder blade or in the back
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Unusual tiredness or weakness (fatigue)
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Loss of appetite or feelings of fullness after eating a small meal
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pale, chalky bowel movements and dark urine
Some liver cancers secrete hormones that can cause additional symptoms. These may include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) that can result in lightheadedness and fainting, especially in people who fasted; breast enlargement (gynecomastia); testicular atrophy; and a high red blood cell count.
Liver Cancer Risk Factors
Risk factors are behaviors, conditions, or substances that can make you more likely to develop a disease. The following are risk factors of liver cancer that you should watch out for:
- Being overweight or obese.
- Having a long-term hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus infection.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Having cirrhosis (scarring of the liver, which can also be caused by hepatitis and alcohol use).
- Having nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (extra fat in the liver that is not caused by alcohol).
- History of type 1 or 2 diabetes.
- Having inherited conditions such as hemochromatosis, a condition where the body takes up and stores more iron than it needs, or Wilson’s disease.
- Eating foods that have aflatoxin (a fungus that can grow on foods, such as grains and nuts that have not been stored properly).
Having these risk factors doesn’t mean you will certainly develop liver cancer, but these factors do increase your risk of developing it. If you are worried about your risk factors or symptoms, consult with your doctor for advice.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.