Liver Cancer – Varieties of cancer that can occur in the liver

Samson T. Jacob

October 4, 2022

Samson Jacob

Liver cancer has various stages, classified as stage A, stage B, stage C, and stage D. It may occur in one or more tumours or spread to blood vessels, lymph nodes, or bones. If it extends beyond the liver, it is classified as stage IV. Many treatments for these types of cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a primary liver cancer that typically affects cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis patients. However, up to 25% of patients may develop the disease without ever having had cirrhosis. Although this type of cancer is rare, its incidence has recently increased worldwide. Some studies predict that it will continue to rise until 2030. The highest incidence rates are in Asia, where hepatitis B and C are endemic.

The treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma will depend on the stage of the disease. In most cases, patients with hepatocellular carcinoma will require a combination of treatments. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, or both. Treatment will also depend on the size of the tumour and the presence of other symptoms.


Cholangiocarcinoma of the liver is common cancer affecting the biliary tract. Its incidence has risen over the past 30 years, although its exact cause is unknown. Some risk factors include biliary tract inflammation, hepatitis, and liver fluke infection. In addition, people who smoke may have a higher risk of developing the disease.

Cholangiocarcinomas of the liver originate in the bile ducts, which connect the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. This type of cancer often occurs in bile ducts within the liver but can also affect the ducts outside the liver. For example, perihilar cholangiocarcinoma can affect the bile ducts near the small intestine.

Although cholangiocarcinoma is often challenging to diagnose, it is a severe threat to public health because there are no effective early diagnoses and treatments. Patients typically seek therapy when the disease has spread beyond the biliary tract. Moreover, there is a high recurrence rate, and only 40% of patients survive five years after diagnosis.

Cholangiocarcinoma can also be challenging to diagnose because the disease often occurs when the tumour is very advanced. It is difficult to treat this type of cancer, but targeted therapies are improving the outlook for patients.


Hepatoblastoma is a type of liver cancer. It is found in up to 55% of all liver cancer cases. It usually develops in the right lobe and reaches up to 25 centimetres in size. In most cases, it is solitary, but in a small proportion of cases, it can also develop as a multifocal tumour. Patients with hepatoblastoma may present with nonspecific symptoms, such as fever, abdominal pain, and an enlarged liver. However, in less than 10% of patients, significant elevations in alpha-fetoprotein and paraneoplastic syndrome may also occur.

A comprehensive physical examination and health history are the first steps in diagnosing. Then, a few tests may be needed, including blood work and an alpha-fetoprotein test. These tests help determine the presence and stage of the tumour, as well as in monitoring the response to treatment. Sometimes, a liver biopsy will be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. During this procedure, a tiny incision is made in the abdomen, and tissue is removed for examination under a microscope. This will help determine whether the tumour has spread to other liver parts and support the treatment plan.

While the cause of hepatoblastoma is unknown, researchers believe that it results from mistakes in the growth of liver cells. The cells grow uncontrollably without regulation, and the abnormal growth of the cells may lead to cancer development. Hepatitis is a known risk factor.