Secondary liver cancer is also called metastatic liver cancer. It does not appear in the liver, but originates from some other organs in the body and then spreads to the liver. For example, the cancer may appear in the lungs, or in the pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, or in the stomach, and then expand to the liver. On the other side, primary liver cancer appears in the liver due to the abnormal growth of cancerous cells that form tumor in the liver. The secondary liver cancer is spread from the primary tumor through the blood stream or through the lymphatic system. The liver is the organ that filters most of the blood from the other organs. Therefore, the cancer that starts in other organs in the body is spread very easily to the liver.
Symptoms of secondary liver cancer
Secondary liver cancer usually does not show any symptoms in the first stages. Therefore, it is very hard to diagnose it in an early phase. However, when some symptoms appear, they usually include loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss, fever, anorexia and nausea. Since these symptoms may be the symptoms of many other health conditions, many people do not suspect that they are actually the warning signs of secondary liver cancer. Gradually, the liver becomes swollen and enlarged, causing abdominal discomfort in the right body side. Furthermore, people who suffer from secondary liver cancer may experience tenderness in the liver, as well as swollen spleen, particularly if the cancer originates from the pancreas.
In the early stages of secondary liver cancer, mild jaundice that tends to aggravate may be present. It occurs due to the bile duct blockage. Furthermore, distension of abdomen and peritoneal cavity also occurs in people with this type of cancer. When the liver is extremely damaged, it cannot eliminate the toxin materials from the blood, which in turn start to accumulate in the brain, causing liver encephalopathy.
Treatment of secondary liver cancer
In order to treat it properly, the doctors first should establish where the cancer started. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, the primary tumor cannot be discovered, just the metastases. In such cases, it is very hard to make a difference between the secondary liver cancer and the primary liver cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are three methods that are used for treating of the secondary liver cancer. Surgery is performed if the cancer is localized; chemotherapy is performed to prolong the patient’s life, while radiation therapy is performed to reduce the pain due to the secondary liver cancer.