The American Cancer Society projects that over 42,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with liver cancer and close to 32,000 people will die from liver cancer in 2019. Liver cancer can be split into two types of cancer. Primary, which starts in the liver, and Metastatic, which is found in the liver, but originated in another organ and spread to the liver. Below is a breakdown of the most common primary and metastatic liver cancers.
Primary Liver Cancer
Primary liver cancer originates in the liver. There are several kinds of primary liver cancer, but below are the four most common according to the American Cancer Society.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC): This is the most common form of liver cancer in adults. Hepatocllular cancers can have different growth patterns. Some begin as a single tumor that grows larger. A second type seems to start as many small cancer nodules throughout the liver, not just a single tumor. This is seen most often in people with cirrhosis (chronic liver damage) and is the most common pattern seen in the United States.
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: The American Cancer Society reports that about 10% to 20% of cancers that start in the liver are intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas. These cancers start in the cells that line the small bile ducts (tubes that carry bile to the gallbladder) within the liver.
Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma: These are rare cancers that begin in cells lining the blood vessels of the liver. People who have been exposed to vinyl chloride or to thorium dioxide (Thorotrast) are more likely to develop these cancers. Some other cases are thought to be caused by exposure to arsenic or radium, or to an inherited condition known as hereditary hemochromatosis.
Metastatic Liver Cancer
Most of the time when cancer is found in the liver it did not start there but has spread from somewhere else in the body. Some of the most common places for cancer to matastasize from include the pancreas, colon, stomach, breast, or lung. Because this metastatic cancer spreads from its original site, it is called a secondary liver cancer or metastatic. These tumors are named and treated based on their primary site rather than their secondary site.
According to the American Cancer Society, several factors can increase a person’s chance of getting liver cancer.
– Gender: Liver cancer is more common in men than in women.
– Race/Ethnicity: In the US, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of liver cancer.
– Chronic Viral Hepatitis
– Alcohol Use
– Inherited Metabolic Diseases
– Tobacco Use
– Type 2 Diabetes
– Vinyl Chloride & Thorium Dioxide
– Anabolic Steroids
How Our Team Treats Liver Cancer
At the Radiation Oncology Services at Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), we treat liver cancer painlessly and noninvasively with external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). EBRT is an effective treatment for liver cancer, working within cancer cells to limit their ability to multiply. During treatment, high-energy X-rays are delivered to the cancer with a linear accelerator (LINAC). The treatment process is painless, safe and treatments take about 10 to 15 minutes. Side effects are usually minimal, and most patients return to routine activities immediately after each treatment.
Radiation Oncology Services at CAMC’s Advantage
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