Your liver is responsible for performing over 100 functions in the body related to keeping you alive. Liver cancer occurs when the liver cells are out of control and the divide and multiply abnormally. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer. Less common are intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and hepatoblastoma. Cancer that spreads to the liver is far more common than cancer that begins in the liver, but regardless, you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of both.
Nausea is a common condition that is derived from many other ailments and medical conditions. Vomiting is a way of your body trying to purge the infection or disease out of you. Rejecting what it thinks is not good for your body. In advanced cancer between 50-70% of people with have nausea and vomiting. In the early stages, it can be a sign to tell you something in your body is not right, especially when it is linked to the digestive system and organs in the abdomen.
The liver can become enlarged from growing the cancer cells. However, you may not see many serious side effects. The enlargement will, naturally, cause a swelling on the right side of your abdomen and there may be discomfort. This is also linked to a lack of appetite and weight loss, fatigue, and nausea. The other factors present are slight jaundice from the liver not functioning properly and experiencing some muscle aches and pain, otherwise known as myalgia. A liver can become swollen from various conditions in the body; if you have concerns, you should see your doctors as soon as possible.
Swelling of the abdomen
When suffering from liver cancer, a general swelling of the abdomen is mainly caused by a build-up of fluid. Called ascites, the fluid builds because the liver is highly congested. This is because the blood vessels in the liver have an enormous pressure put on them, so the blood gets backed up and can’t flow normally. This forces the fluid to leak from the veins into the abdomen. The most common symptom to experience will be the belly growing, but it can also cause discomfort and pain, and sometimes nausea, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.
Enlarged veins on stomach
Related to stomach swelling from liver cancer, you may be able to see veins under the surface of the skin on the abdomen. This is because the veins grow so large. The liver is not functioning as it should and therefore not able to make blood proteins properly. The veins in the stomach are under a tremendous amount of pressure from both a swollen liver, engorged stomach and the increase in the size of the veins because the blood in them is getting backed up. Seeing your veins under the skin of an engorged stomach is severe and should be seen to by a medical professional.
Jaundice as an adult can be caused by many conditions. It means a yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin. Jaundice can also make your skin feel itchy. Liver cancer can create too much bilirubin in the blood, which is called hyperbilirubinemia. When Bilirubin cannot move through the liver and bile ducts successfully, or quickly enough, it creates a build up in the blood and then is deposited in the skin, which causes a yellow pigment to the skin and can also cause the skin to be extremely itchy. Ascites, fluid in the abdomen can also cause jaundice and is also linked to liver cancer.
It is cause for concern when you lose weight when you aren’t dieting; it can often be the cause of a medical condition. If there is no obvious explanation for your sudden weight loss, it is best to see your doctor. As a scale, doctors will usually clarify significant weight loss to be more than 10% of your healthy body weight. When your liver is not functioning properly due to liver cancer, this would often be the primary cause of weight loss, but also, you may not feel hungry so therefore are not eating as much and not receiving foods nutrients.
Feeling full after a meal, especially a slight meal, is a common sign of a problem with the liver or stomach. This feeling of overeating, without having eaten much, can go hand in hand with experiencing a bit of abdominal aching and stomach acid or reflux. It also doesn’t help when you are bloated and swollen. This will make you not want to eat at all but perhaps force in a few small mouthfuls, only to then feel full once again. Feeling full and not eating much is linked to weight loss and depression about your health.
A bruise is commonly formed, by a bleeding into the skin from surrounding damaged blood vessels. People living with Liver cancer are likely to bruise easily because of having low platelets count. Platelets function is to plug the tiny holes that form blood vessels and work to form blood clots, which helps stop bleeding in larger blood vessels. This is known as thrombocytopenia. Hematomas (bruises) cause a black and blue colored appearance to the skin, usually after being knocked or banged with force. If you bruise easily, then you may not have to do much for a bruise to form under the skin.
Some liver cancers can cause problems with other organs in the body. They interfere with the production of hormones and can cause hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia is when there are very high levels of calcium in the blood resulting in low blood sugar levels. This rarely happens in people with early cancer symptoms, but more in the later stages of cancer’s growth. Hypercalcemia can cause headaches and visual problems, anxiety, physical weakness. It can make you feel fatigued, so much you’ll want to sleep regularly and it some cases can even lead to a coma.
White chalky stools
If you have a bowel movement and your stools are white in color and have a pale constancy, it is most likely because of a lack of bile. Bile is a digestive fluid produced by the liver. It’s what makes a stool get its brown color, which is considered a normal color. When the liver isn’t functioning properly, it cannot produce bile. Therefore the gallbladder cannot store it, and this results in the fluid not being excreted into the small intestine in the digestive process. Then the stools will be white. This is a very clear indication that something is not right in the system.