According to the American Cancer Society, 30,000 people die from liver cancer every year, and that’s only in the US. At least 800,000 people globally suffer from the condition. Interestingly, two-thirds of the people affected by liver cancer are men, but that doesn’t mean women are not at risk.
There’s more bad news. Detecting liver cancer early is not easy; it shows no signs until it has evolved to dangerous levels. The small tumors in the liver are almost impossible to detect, and they can grow fast. Still, here are a few silent signs that might help you detect liver cancer.
Abdominal pain and swelling
The rib cage protects the liver, so it’s hard to tell if it’s swollen. Still, you might notice inflammation and abdominal pain, especially in the upper right of the abdomen.
Of course, there are many reasons for experiencing abdominal pain. Still, if you suspect it’s the liver, a screening might reveal if it is indeed cancer or something else, like hepatitis or an infection in the pancreas. No abdominal pain should last more than a few days, so if the problem persists, talk to your doctor.
You Lose Your Appetite
One of the earliest signs of cancer, mainly liver cancer, is loss of appetite. If you can’t finish your meals or feel full too quickly, there might be something wrong with you. And if you do finish your food, you might feel nausea and have indigestion, these might also be a sign of cancer.
Having said that, there are several other reasons for not feeling particularly hungry — even stress and anxiety can be responsible. Still, if this is not your only symptom, then you might be at risk.
You Lose Weight Fast
Cancer causes you to lose weight without even trying, and that’s not a good thing. And although other factors can cause weight loss, including infections and viruses, it can also be cancer.
If you lose weight too fast while not on a diet and experience other symptoms on this list, make sure you mention it to your doctor. Cancer screening can confirm if this is something to worry about, so waste no time. You want to detect liver cancer early.
Yellow Skin and Eyes
When your liver stops working, you know it. A symptom called jaundice, the yellowing of eyes and skin, is a possible sign of liver, pancreatic or gallbladder cancer. The yellowing can be pretty subtle at first, but it becomes more noticeable as the liver weakens.
Jaundice happens when you have high bilirubin levels in your system, a bile pigment released by your liver. Other conditions can cause it, too, all related to the liver and the biliary tract. And although jaundice is not fun, it’s at least a noticeable sign that there’s something wrong.
You Have or Had Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a liver-related disease with lifelong effects, and both hepatitis C and B can promote cancer growth. Life is not the same after hepatitis, especially for the liver, so you need special care and constant monitoring.
If you had hepatitis, the risk of suffering from liver cancer increases dramatically, especially if you’re overweight or obese. These are all risk factors, and although not signs of cancer, they can certainly cause it.
You Only Have One Liver, Take Care of It!
Our liver works extra hard cleaning our blood from all the nasty stuff we put in our bodies. Let’s not make it work harder! Try not to drink too much alcohol, quit smoking and stay away from unhealthy food. You might even prevent cancer, and that’s worth the effort!