Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Liver (Hepatocellular) Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Liver (Hepatocellular) Cancer

    Liver cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the liver.

    The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. It has four lobes and fills the upper right side of the abdomen inside the rib cage. Three of the many important functions of the liver are:

    • To filter harmful substances from the blood so they can be passed from the body in stools and urine.
    • To make bile to help digest fats from food.
    • To store glycogen (sugar), which the body uses for energy.

    cdr0000658698.jpg
    Anatomy of the liver. The liver is in the upper abdomen near the stomach, intestines, gallbladder, and pancreas. The liver has four lobes. Two lobes are on the front and two small lobes (not shown) are on the back of the liver.

    See the following PDQ summaries for more information about liver (hepatocellular) cancer:

    • Liver (Hepatocellular) Cancer Screening
    • Adult Primary Liver Cancer Treatment
    • Childhood Liver Cancer Treatment

    Liver cancer is not common in the United States.

    Liver cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in the world. In the United States, men, especially Chinese American men, have an increased risk of liver cancer. The number of new cases of liver cancer and the number of deaths from liver cancer continue to increase, especially among middle-aged black, Hispanic, and white men. People are usually older than 40 years when they develop this cancer.

    Finding and treating liver cancer early may prevent death from liver cancer.

    Being infected with certain types of the hepatitis virus can cause hepatitis and increase the risk of liver cancer.

    Hepatitis is most commonly caused by the hepatitis virus. Hepatitis is a disease that causes inflammation (swelling) of the liver. Damage to the liver from hepatitis that lasts a long time can increase the risk of liver cancer.

    There are six types of the hepatitis virus. Hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV) are the three most common types. These three viruses cause similar symptoms, but the ways they spread and affect the liver are different.

    1 | 2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    man holding lung xray
    What you need to know.
    stem cells
    How they work for blood cancers.
     
    woman wearing pink ribbon
    Separate fact from fiction.
    Colorectal cancer cells
    Symptoms, screening tests, and more.
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article