Early Detection Matters: How to Detect Liver Cancer Early
This article will explore the importance of early detection in improving outcomes, discuss the symptoms to watch out for, delve into the various diagnostic tests, and highlight the latest advances in liver cancer detection.
Liver cancer is a serious health concern that requires prompt attention. Detecting liver cancer early in an early stage makes treatment options more effective, and the chances of successful recovery are significantly higher. Let’s dive into the details.
Understanding Liver Cancer
The liver is a vital organ responsible for processing nutrients, filtering toxins, and producing essential proteins. Liver cancer occurs when abnormal cells multiply uncontrollably, leading to the formation of tumours.
There are two main types of liver cancer – primary liver cancer, which originates in the liver, and secondary liver cancer, which spreads to the liver from other body parts.
Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing primary liver cancer, including chronic hepatitis B or C infection, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, and certain inherited liver diseases.
Early Symptoms of Liver Cancer
Detecting liver cancer greatly increases the chances of successful treatment. While liver cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages, there are several signs to be aware of:
⇒ Abdominal pain:
Persistent pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen.
⇒ Unexplained weight loss:
Sudden and unintentional weight loss without apparent reason.
Yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy.
⇒ Nausea and vomiting:
Persistent nausea and occasional vomiting.
It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be associated with other conditions. If you persistently experience any of these symptoms, you should consult an oncologist for a thorough evaluation.
If you notice any of the symptoms, you must Schedule a consultation with Dr. Praveen Kammar, a leading liver cancer specialist in Mumbai. The fastest assessment and subsequent treatment will help you to reduce the risk of Cancer.
Tests for Detecting Liver Cancer Early
When diagnosing liver cancer, several tests are available that help in early detection and accurate diagnosis. These tests may include:
⇒ Needle biopsy:
A thin needle removes a small sample of liver tissue for analysis.Due to high sensitivity of the imaging tests , biopsy is done only in nonsurgical scenarios and in clinical dilemmas.
⇒ MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging):
A non-invasive imaging technique that provides detailed images of the liver’s structure and can help identify tumours.
⇒ CT scan (Computed Tomography):
Another imaging technique that uses X-rays to create cross-sectional liver images.
⇒ Blood tests:
These may include the Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test and Ca19-9 levels, which measures the levels of a specific protein associated with liver cancer and liver enzyme tests.
It’s important to remember that the choice of tests depends on the individual case and the doctor’s recommendation.
Liver Cancer Test Cost Chart
The cost of liver cancer tests can vary widely. Factors such as the location of the healthcare facility, type of test, and insurance coverage can influence the overall cost. Here is a general cost chart to give you an idea:
- Needle biopsy
- CT scan
- Liver Function Test
- Kidney Function Test
- Blood tests
Approximate Cost (INR)
- 5,000 – 20,000 INR
- 3,000 – 10,000 INR
- 2,500 – 8,000 INR
- 1,500 – 5,000 INR
- 500 – 1,500 INR
- 300 – 1,000 INR
- 500 – 2,000 INR
Please note that these costs are approximate and can vary. Checking with an oncologist or insurance company for specific pricing information is always advisable.
The Latest Advances in Liver Cancer Detection
Medical advancements have revolutionised the field of liver cancer detection. Here are some of the latest advances in liver cancer diagnosis:
⇒ Liquid biopsies:
These tests analyse a patient’s blood for circulating tumour cells or DNA fragments shed by tumours, allowing for early detection and monitoring of liver cancer.
Researchers identify specific biomarkers that can indicate the presence of liver cancer. These biomarkers, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP), can be measured through blood tests and can help in the early detection of liver cancer.
⇒ Artificial intelligence-assisted diagnostics:
AI technology is being utilised to analyse medical imaging scans and detect liver cancer at an early stage. Machine learning algorithms can identify subtle patterns and abnormalities in liver images, aiding in accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.
⇒ Genetic testing:
Genetic testing can identify specific gene mutations or variations that increase the risk of developing liver cancer. An oncologist can recommend personalised screening and monitoring strategies by understanding an individual’s genetic predisposition.
Treatment Options for Liver Cancer
Once liver cancer is detected, various treatments for Liver Cancer are available depending on the stage and extent of the disease. These may include:
Surgical intervention may involve removing the tumour or, in some cases, a liver transplant. Surgery is most effective when the cancer is confined to a specific area and has not spread extensively.
⇒ Targeted Therapies:
Targeted drugs attack specific molecules or pathways in cancer growth. They can block the signals that promote tumour growth and spread.
Immunotherapy utilises the body’s immune system to fight against cancer. It includes therapies that enhance the immune response to eliminate cancer cells.
⇒ Radiofrequency ablation (RFA):
This procedure uses heat generated by high-frequency electrical currents to destroy cancer cells. RFA is often used for small liver tumours that cannot be surgically removed.
⇒ Transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE):
TACE combines chemotherapy drugs with embolisation, a technique that blocks the blood supply to tumours. This approach delivers high doses of chemotherapy directly to the tumour while minimising side effects.
Prevention and Lifestyle Tips
Prevention is crucial in reducing the risk of liver cancer. Here are some lifestyle tips to consider:
⇒ Hepatitis B and C prevention:
Get vaccinated against hepatitis B and take necessary precautions to prevent exposure to hepatitis C, such as avoiding sharing needles or practising safe sex.
⇒ Limit alcohol consumption:
Excessive alcohol intake can damage the liver and increase the risk of liver cancer. It’s advisable to consume alcohol in moderation or avoid it altogether.
⇒ Maintain a healthy weight:
Obesity and being overweight increase the risk of liver cancer. Adopting a balanced diet and regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight.
⇒ Practice safe sex:
Certain sexually transmitted infections, such as hepatitis B and C, can increase the risk of liver cancer. Using protection during sexual activity can reduce the risk of infection.
⇒ Avoid exposure to toxins:
Minimize exposure to toxic chemicals and substances that can harm the liver, such as aflatoxins (commonly found in mouldy nuts and grains) and certain industrial chemicals.
Early detection is essential in improving the outcomes for individuals with liver cancer. By recognising the symptoms, undergoing appropriate tests, and taking advantage of the latest advances in detection, individuals have a higher chance of successful treatment and recovery.
It’s essential to consult with an oncologist for personalised guidance and recommendations based on individual circumstances. Prevention is critical; maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of developing liver cancer.
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