Hepatocellular Carcinoma

What is Hepatocellular Carcinoma?

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a form of liver cancer. It begins in the cells of the liver (hepatocytes). About 90% of liver cancers come from HCC. In the United States, approximately 42,000 people are diagnosed with HCC each year. HCC can develop in anyone, but is most common in people between the ages of 50 and 70. It is also more common in men than women.

Risk Factors For Hepatocellular Carcinoma

One of the main causes of HCC is chronic infection with viruses like hepatitis C or hepatitis B. Other factors that increase your risk include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • A family history of liver cancer
  • Cirrhosis
  • Diabetes
  • Iron Overload

Signs and Symptoms of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

It is difficult to detect HCC until it has spread. Signs and symptoms of the cancer may include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upper abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • A mass or lump in the abdominal area
  • Fever
  • Itching

Treatments for Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Treatment for HCC depends on the size, location, and overall health of the patient. Options include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor or part of the liver
  • Radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells
  • Targeted therapy to block the growth and spread of cancer cells
  • Liver transplant if the cancer is very localized
  • Liver support systems to help the liver function while it is dealing with cancer

Preventing Hepatocellular Carcinoma

There are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing HCC:

  • Avoid exposure to viruses like hepatitis C and B.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid cigarettes and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Exercise regularly.