Signs and Symptoms That You Might Have Liver Cancer
These symptoms and tests may reveal other liver conditions not related to liver cancer. However, check with a medical professional if you believe you have symptoms of a serious medical condition.
A few symptoms of liver cancer involve digestive difficulties such as loss of appetite, feeling full after a small meal, and nausea and vomiting. An unexplained weight loss when you are not trying to lose weight may also be a symptom of liver cancer. White, chalky stools could be present, as well as dark-colored urine. A general feeling of persistent weakness and fatigue may also occur.
Your abdomen, especially along the right side of your body near the liver, may experience several symptoms associated with liver disease. Fluid may build up in the abdomen and lead to swelling and bloating. The liver could enlarge, as evidenced by a mass felt under the ribs on the right side. The spleen may also enlarge, leading to a mass felt on the left side of the body beneath the rib cage. Pain could well up within the abdomen or near the right shoulder blade.
Your skin and/or the whites of your eyes could have a yellowish tint to them with liver cancer. This condition, called jaundice, occurs when the liver does not function properly. Consult with your primary care physician if you exhibit any of these common symptoms.
When your doctor examines you, he might order blood tests to ascertain the liver's overall function. High levels of calcium, cholesterol and red blood cells could indicate liver cancer, while low blood sugar may also occur. Your doctor may watch for changes in alpha-fetoprotein levels. A serum marker test measures liver enzymes, and these substances may be higher in patients with liver cancer.
Imaging the Liver
Liver specialists might order an imaging of the liver, such as an ultrasound, computed tomography scan or magnetic resonance imaging. A doctor may also order an angiogram or laparoscopy to examine the liver internally with specialized tools, including small cameras on the end of a very thin cord. A doctor might take a tissue sample with a laparoscope to perform a biopsy on the liver.
Liver cancer signs and symptoms may not present themselves until later stages of the disease. If you go to your doctor when symptoms arise, cancer could be detected sooner and treatments may be more effective. Look for a set of common symptoms, and then have your doctor order blood tests to determine whether you have liver cancer. Symptoms of liver cancer may vary from person to person.