In France, liver cancer is most often the complication of a chronic disease, hepatic cirrhosis . Liver cancer affects approximately 8,000 French people each year, most often men. They are generally diagnosed late, which makes their treatment difficult. Surgery, in particular liver transplantation, is their main treatment, but other types of treatment exist: partial removal of the liver, localized chemotherapy or destruction of the tumor by heat.
HAT IS LIVER CANCER?
In the vast majority of cases, these nodules develop in a liver that has been affected for years by a chronic disease that has caused cirrhosis (for example, alcoholism or chronic viral hepatitis ). Liver cancer does not cause symptoms for a long time , which makes it difficult to diagnose early. Patients in whom this cancer is discovered often suffer from advanced forms that are difficult to treat.
Liver cancers should not be confused with liver metastases from other cancers . Unlike tumors (also metastases are due to cancer cells born outside the liver (depending on their cancer of origin), which have migrated into the bloodstream to attach then into the liver and form a metastasis . The cells that make up a metastasis retain the characteristics of their organ of origin (breast, lung, ovary, colon, etc.). pancreas
Diagram of the liver
What is the role of the liver?
The liver is a large vital organ located on the right side of the body, below the rib cage. It provides essential functions in our body: transformation and storage of nutrients from the intestines, production of bile essential for the digestion of fats, participation in the maintenance of blood sugar levels, production of proteins necessary for blood coagulation. blood, filtration and transformation of toxic substances to which we may be exposed ( alcohol , drugs, medicines, pollutants, etc.) so that they are then eliminated in the stool or urine.
The liver plays an important role in the storage of sugars (source of energy) and vitamins, which is why fatigue is a common symptom of liver disease.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIVER CANCER
In about 90% of cases, liver cancers affect the cells that form the bulk of the liver, the hepatocytes. This is called “ hepatocarcinoma ” or “ hepatocellular carcinoma ”. But there are other , rarer types of liver tumours . Some are benign ( cysts , hemangiomas, adenomas , etc.), others are cancers of the cells that form the walls of blood vessels or bile ducts (through which bile flows).
HOW COMMON ARE LIVER CANCERS?
In France, liver cancer remains relatively rare. In 2011, 8,200 liver cancers were diagnosed. Liver cancers are four times more common in men (80% of cases) and are most often diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 60. The number of liver cancers diagnosed each year is falling significantly, particularly due to the number of people successfully treated for hepatitis .
Liver cancers are particularly common in Asian and African countries where chronic viral hepatitis ( hepatitis B , hepatitis C) is widespread.