Staying on top of the risk

If there’s a higher risk of liver cancer, watching for it is key 

The liver is a vital organ—we depend on a properly functioning liver to keep us alive.

A wide variety of diseases, conditions, and injuries may affect the liver, and the damage caused by each tends to progress in a similar pattern. 

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Inflammation (swelling)

One of the earliest signs of liver disease is inflammation. Depending on what’s causing the liver to become inflamed, the condition may progress or possibly, the liver may heal itself.1

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Fibrosis (stiffening)

If inflammation persists, the liver may develop a type of scar tissue known as fibrosis. Fibrosis in the liver may also be treatable and reversible in some situations.1

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Cirrhosis (scarring)

In cirrhosis, hard scar tissue begins to replace healthy liver tissue. This limits the liver’s ability to function correctly. When liver disease progresses to this point, treatment options are more limited, and the focus may shift toward preventing the condition from worsening.1

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Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is caused by the growth and spread of disorganized, unhealthy cells in the liver. When cancer starts in the liver, it is called primary liver cancer. Cancer that spreads to the liver from another organ is called metastatic liver cancer.1

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The most common type of primary liver cancer is called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)

Roughly 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with liver cancer each year, and that number is rising.2 If you have liver disease or are at high risk for it, your doctor may recommend a program to watch closely for the earlier signs of liver cancer. Catching liver cancer in the earliest stages may improve your chances for survival, and keep a number of treatment options open. That’s why watching for the early stages of cancer is key.3,4 

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Finding out you are at risk for liver cancer can be scary. It’s important to know your risk so you can find cancer as early as possible.

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You can help take control of your health by understanding your risk for developing liver cancer and working closely with your doctors to stay ahead of your disease.

Read about liver disease Risk Factors

Learn more

The term liver cancer is used to represent the most common form of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

References: 1. American Liver Foundation website. Progression of liver disease. Available at: https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/the-progression-of-liver-disease/. Accessed September 2, 2020. 2. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2020. CA Cancer J Clin. 2020;70(1):7-30. doi: 10.3322/caac.21590 3. Choi DT, Kum HC, Park S, et al. Hepatocellular carcinoma screening is associated with increased survival of patients with cirrhosis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019;17(5):976-987.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.10.031 4. National Cancer Institute. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program website. Cancer stat facts: liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer. Available at: https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/livibd.html. Accessed September 3, 2020.