Liver & Pancreatic Cancer

 

Liver Illustration

Liver Cancer

 

The liver is located in the right side of the abdomen. It stores and metabolizes nutrients, and filters and stores blood. Liver cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the liver.

Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably, a mass of tissue forms. This is called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors. They can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body .

The cause of liver cancer is not known. Research shows that certain risk factors are associated with the disease.

Tumours can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumours stay in the liver and don’t spread to other parts of your body. These aren’t cancerous and are rarely life-threatening. Malignant tumours are cells that grow uncontrollably and can spread to other parts of your body and invade healthy tissue. Cancer is the name given to a malignant tumour.

Your liver is a large organ, found beneath your right lung, just under your ribcage. It’s divided into two sections, called lobes.

Your liver carries out many important jobs, including:

•breaking down harmful substances, such as alcohol and drugs

•breaking down waste products from normal bodily functions

•converting fats to energy when you need it

•producing bile to help you digest and absorb food

•It can also repair itself and still functions when much of it is damaged.

 

Types of primary liver cancer

 

There are four main types of primary liver cancer.

Hepatocellular carcinoma. Also known as hepatoma or HCC. It’s the most common type of primary liver cancer and starts in the main cells of your liver, called hepatocytes

.

Cholangiocarcinoma. This starts in the cells that line your bile duct and is known as cancer of the bile duct. Your bile duct is a tube that connects your liver to your small bowel.

•Angiosarcoma. This is a very rare form of liver cancer and starts in the blood vessels of your liver.

Hepatoblastoma. This is also a very rare form of liver cancer that usually affects children.

Symptoms of primary liver cancer

Primary liver cancer affects people in different ways. Most of the time there are no symptoms in the early stages of primary liver cancer because your liver can still function when only a part of it’s working. Later symptoms may include:

•weight loss (when you’re not trying to lose weight)

•loss of appetite

•being sick

•feeling bloated after small meals

•skin and eyes turning yellow (jaundice)

•fatigue

•pain and discomfort around the area of your liver

•sweating and a high temperature

These symptoms aren’t always caused by liver cancer but if you have any of them, see your GP.

After Treatment :

After treatment for HCC ends, talk with your doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan will include regular physical examinations, imaging tests (such as ultrasound), and blood tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years.

Careful follow-up care is important no matter what type of treatment was used. Follow-up care will not only measure how effective the treatment has been but also allow early detection of any recurrence. This is particularly important because there is always a risk that the tumor will come back after treatment or that another tumor will develop. Research to find ways to prevent second cancers and recurrent HCC is ongoing, but there is no standard prevention method at this time.

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Pancreas Illustration

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the pancreas. The pancreas is a long, flattened pear-shaped organ in the abdomen. It makes digestive enzymes and hormones including insulin.

Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably, a mass of tissue forms. This is called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors. They can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Causes:

The cause is unknown. Research shows that certain risk factors are associated with the disease.

 

Risk Factors:

Factors that increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer include:

•Age: 40 or older

•Sex: male

•Smoking and using smokeless tobacco (eg, chewing tobacco)

•Diabetes

•Chronic pancreatitis , hereditary pancreatitis, family nonpolyposis colon cancer syndrome

•Family or personal history of certain types of colon polyps or colon cancer

•Family history of pancreatic cancer (especially in Ashkenazi Jews with BRCA2 [breast cancer associated]) gene

•High-fat diet

•Overweight or obese, which may also reduce your chance of survival from pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer does not cause symptoms in its early stages. The cancer may grow for some time before it causes symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they may be very vague. In many cases, the cancer has spread outside the pancreas by the time it is discovered.

Symptoms will vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. Symptoms include:

•Nausea

•Loss of appetite

•Unexplained weight loss

•Pain—in the upper abdomen, sometimes spreading to the back (a result of the cancer growing and spreading)

•Jaundice —yellowness of skin and whites of the eyes; dark urine (if the tumor blocks the common bile duct); tan stool or stool that floats to the top of the bowl.

•Weakness, dizziness, chills, muscle spasms, diarrhoe (especially if the cancer involves the islet cells that make insulin and other hormones)

These symptoms may also be caused by other, less serious health conditions. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor.

Diagnosis :

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam may be done. The doctor may order blood and urine tests, as well as check for hidden blood in bowel movements.

After Treatment :

After treatment for pancreatic cancer ends, talk with your doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years.

For people who have had surgery, follow-up visits every three to six months with the oncologist are typically recommended. Blood tests, including monitoring liver function and the tumor marker CA 19-9, may be done during these visits. CT scans are not needed regularly, but they may be used depending on a person’s symptoms and any changes found during the physical examination or with the blood work. PET scans may be used to look for a recurrence after treatment.

Our focus is on improving early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and improving the quality of life for those affected by pancreatic cancer.

 

Pancreatic Cancer Action

Unit 9,

Oakhanger Business Park,

Oakhanger,

Hampshire,

GU35 9JA

 

Alternatively, you can call us on 0303 040 1770.

WEBSITE : www.pancreaticcanceraction.org

 

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