What is Liver Cancer?

Liver Cancer is a cancer arising from liver cells.

Is liver cancer common in Singapore?

Liver Cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in men, after colon and lung cancer.

What are the risk factors associated with liver cancer?

The most common risk factor for liver cancer in Singapore is Hepatitis B. Other risk factors include chronic alcohol use, chronic hepatitis C and other conditions leading to liver cirrhosis. There is also increasing evidence that obesity and diabetes associated with NASH (fatty liver) are also risk factors for cirrhosis.

What are the symptoms associated with liver cancer?

Most patients with liver cancer do not have any symptoms especially in the early stage of the disease. In the later stages, patients may develop jaundice, confusion, bleeding tendencies or fluid in their abdomen known as ascites.

Is there a way to detect liver cancer early in the absence of symptoms?

Yes. Patients with liver cirrhosis and risk factors for liver cancer should undergo regular screening every six months using ultrasound of the liver and a blood test.

How is liver cancer diagnosed?

Diagnosis of liver cancer is usually be made by CT or MRI scans. In a small proportion of cases a liver biopsy may be needed to establish a diagnosis.

Treatment

There are now several curative treatment modalities for liver cancer in selected patients. These include surgery, liver transplantation and radiofrequency ablation (RFA). There are also other treatment modalities used in more advanced stages of liver cancer including local chemotherapy – transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE), Yttrium-90 radioembolisation (Y-90) and molecular targeted therapies.

Follow-up after treatment

Patients treated for liver cancer are followed-up on a regular basis for surveillance of any tumour recurrence.

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