Most people don't have signs and symptoms in the early stages of primary liver cancer. When signs and symptoms do appear, they may include:
- Losing weight without trying
- Loss of appetite
- Upper abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- General weakness and fatigue
- Abdominal swelling
- Yellow discoloration of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- White, chalky stools
Benign liver growths (non cancerous growths)
Most growths in the liver are benign. These are not cancer. Many benign growths can be treated without surgery, although some do need an operation. Benign growths of the liver do not go on to develop into cancer.
- Primary and secondary liver cancer
Cancers are named after the type of cell and part of the body they first begin to grow. This is the primary cancer.
These cells can break away from the primary site and travel to other parts of the body in the blood or lymphatic system. The cells eventually lodge in another body organ and begin to grow there. This is called a secondary cancer. Although the cells are still the same type - that of the primary cancer.
This is important because cancers are treated according to the original cell type. So for example, secondary breast cancers that have spread to the liver are treated with breast cancer treatments, because the cancer cells in the liver are breast cancer cells.
- Secondary liver cancer
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
This is also sometimes called hepatoma or HCC. It's the most common type of primary liver cancer. The information in this section is mainly about hepatocellular cancers. Hepatocellular means liver cells. Carcinoma means cancer.
This type of liver cancer develops from the main liver cells called hepatocytes. It's more common in people who have a damaged liver from cirrhosis. It is much more likely to develop in men than in women and becomes more common as people get older.
- Fibrolamellar carcinoma
Fibrolamellar carcinoma is a rare sub type of hepatocellular cancer (HCC). Fibro refers to fibrous tissue and lamellar refers to the plate like structure of the cells.
Fibrolamellar carcinoma tends to develop in younger people, and is not usually linked with cirrhosis or infection with hepatitis B or C.
The other main difference is that people with fibrolamellar carcinomas do not usually have higher levels of the protein alpha fetoprotein (AFP) in their blood. Like HCC, surgery is the main treatment. If it can be removed with surgery, fibrolamellar carcinoma may have a better outlook than HCC.
- Clear cell sarcoma is a rare cancer that often develops in tendons of the arms or legs. Under the microscope, it has some features of malignant melanoma, a type of cancer that develops from pigment-producing skin cells. How cancers with these features start in parts of the body other than the skin is not known.
- Desmoplastic small round cell tumor is a rare sarcoma of adolescents and young adults, found most often in the abdomen.
- Epithelioid sarcoma most often develops in tissues under the skin of the hands, forearms, feet, or lower legs. Adolescents and young adults are often affected.
- Fibromyxoid sarcoma, low-grade is a slow growing cancer that most often develops as a painless growth in the trunk or arms and legs (particularly the thigh). It is more common in young to middle aged adults. It is also sometimes called an Evans’ tumor.