Liver cancer

Liver cancer

What is liver cancer?

Primary liver cancer starts in the liver. The different types are

  • hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
  • cholangiocarcinoma
  • angiosarcoma

If primary liver cancer isn’t found in its early stages, or if treatment is unsuccessful, it can spread and become secondary.

Read more about liver cancer.

Liver cancer symptoms

Primary liver cancer doesn’t tend to cause symptoms in the early stages, but they may appear as the cancer grows or becomes advanced. Secondary liver cancers may cause similar symptoms.

  • Symptoms can include
  • weakness and tiredness (fatigue)
  • pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • severe abdominal pain
  • appetite loss and feeling sick (nausea)
  • weight loss
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • pale bowel motions
  • swelling of the abdomen (ascites)
  • fever.

Liver cancer statistics

  • Primary liver cancer is one of the less common cancers in Australia.
  • About 1400 people are diagnosed with it every year.
  • It is more than twice as common in men.
  • The average age at diagnosis is 66.

The incidence of primary liver cancer is increasing, mainly because the rate of hepatitis infection is increasing, and more people are developing serious damage from fatty liver disease.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of primary liver cancer, is common in Asia, Mediterranean countries and Africa due to the high rates of chronic hepatitis B infection. In Australia, it is more common in migrants from Vietnam, Hong Kong and Korea – countries where hepatitis B infection is prevalent.

Secondary cancer in the liver is much more common than primary liver cancer. It occurs about 20 times more often, with about 28,000 people in Australia diagnosed every year.

The aim of this information is to help you understand about liver cancer. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.