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5 Signs of Liver Cancer You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Liver cancer is one of the most frightening liver conditions you could ever face. But like all cancers, the outcome is likely to be better if you catch the condition early.

Liver cancer is one of the most frightening liver conditions you could ever face. But like all cancers, the outcome is likely to be better if you catch the condition early.

According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for stage 1, 2, and some stage 3 liver cancers is 31%. This figure drops to 11% if the cancer reaches stage 3A or stage 4. It drops to 3% if the cancer spreads to other organs.

Liver Cancer Symptoms

If you’re noticing any of the following symptoms, please contact your doctor right away.

#1)  Unexplained weight loss.

You haven’t changed your eating habits or adopted a new exercise regimen, but you’ve abruptly dropped ten pounds or more? While many of us dream of sudden weight loss we didn’t have to work for, it’s not always a good sign.

For many, unexplained weight loss is one of the first signs of cancer, whether it’s liver cancer or a cancer of the stomach, pancreas, lungs, or esophagus. You can enjoy tightening your belt a notch after you’ve ruled out the possibility of a problem.

#2)  Loss of appetite.

Liver Cancer Signs

There are several reasons why liver cancer could cause a change in your appetite.

Liver rules the metabolism, and metabolic changes could change the way your brain receives hunger signals. Liver cancer can also cause fluid build-up and bloating in the stomach which can make you feel full much faster than you would if you were in good health. Finally, liver cancer could enlarge both your liver and your spleen. These organs then push against your stomach, creating an illusionary feeling of fullness.

#3)  Pain, discomfort, or strange masses on the right side, under the rib cage.

Liver Cancer Signs

Your liver is located on the right side of your body directly under your rib cage. Any tenderness, swelling, or lumps you find there are a sign that something is amiss.

A self-exam can at least tell you if your liver is swollen. You’ll need a doctor to determine whether cancer is the cause.

#4)  Unexplained itches.

Many cancer patients find they deal with itchiness for a variety of reasons.

In this case, cancer could be irritating your liver. Your liver then deposits bile in the skin, causing discomfort. This happens to cirrhosis patients, too. If you don’t have any allergies, don’t suffer from routine skin conditions and haven’t taken a walk through any poison ivy lately then itchiness could be a sign of liver problems in general.

#5)  Jaundice.

Many people know jaundice could be a sign of hepatitis. Fewer realize it can be a sign of liver cancer, too.

Either way, yellowed skin and eyes is never a good sign. Don’t assume it will go away on its own!

Remember, preventing liver cancer is easier and better than curing it.

Not suffering from any of these symptoms yet? Awesome! Let’s keep it that way. Consider taking some steps to reduce your risks of liver cancer, or try milk thistle, a supplement which helps you prevent cancer by supporting your overall liver health., Liver Cancer Survival Rates, American Cancer Society, accessed June 7, 2018., Signs and Symptoms of Cancer, American Cancer Society, accessed June 7, 2018., Appetite Loss, Accessed June 7, 2018., How to Tell if Your Liver is Enlarged,, July 27, 2017, accessed June 7, 2018., Does Cancer Itch? What Causes Itching? Cancer Docs, August 19, 2017, accessed June 7, 2018., Liver Cirrhosis, My Dr., accessed June 7, 2018., Jaundice in Cancer, Subbiah, Vivek, MD., West, Howard "Jack," MD., JAMA Oncology Patient Page, August 2016, Accessed June 7, 2018

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About the Author

Stephen Holt, MD, PhD, FACP

Stephen Holt, M.D. is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine NYCPM (Emerite) and a medical practitioner in New York State. He has published many peer-review papers in medicine and he is a best-selling author with more than twenty books in national and international distribution. He has received many awards for teaching and research. Dr. Holt is a frequent lecturer at scientific meetings and healthcare facilities throughout the world. He is a best selling author and the founder of the Holt Institute of Medicine.

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