The liver is the second largest organ in your body. It helps your body digest food and absorb nutrients. The liver produces bile, a substance your body needs to absorb vitamins.
Equally important, the liver filters drugs, alcohol, chemicals, and environmental toxins from your blood. It can filter up to 1 1/2 quarts of blood each day. Its role as a blood filter makes the liver susceptible to secondary (metastatic) tumors. These are tumors whose cells have spread to the liver through the bloodstream from other parts of the body.
1. Right lobe of liver
2. Left lobe of liver
4. Superior mesenteric vein
5. Superior mesenteric artery
Primary liver tumors originate in the liver. The most common form is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).1 HCC can start as a single tumor in the liver. It then grows and spreads to other parts of the liver. HCC can also start as many small tumors throughout the liver. When HCC is found only in the liver, it’s called “localized.” HCC can spread outside the liver to the lymph nodes or to other organs in the body. The most common risk factors for HCC are hepatitis B, hepatitis C, cirrhosis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or exposure to aflatoxins.1
Secondary (or metastatic) liver tumors originate in another part of the body and spread to the liver. In most cases, the metastatic liver tumor grows from cells that have spread from cancers in the colon or rectum.2
If you visit your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your liver tumor(s) might be diagnosed earlier, when intervention is most likely to help.3 Symptoms do not necessarily mean you have a tumor. However, most liver tumor patients experience symptoms such as these:
Liver tumors can cause other symptoms too. These include fever, enlarged veins on the belly that can be seen through the skin, and abnormal bruising or bleeding.
American Cancer Society. Liver Cancer. Updated April 28, 2016. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003114-pdf.pdf Accessed December 21, 2016.
Sadahiro S, Suzuki T, Tanaka A, Okada K, Kamata H. Hematogenous metastatic patterns of curatively resected colon cancer were different from those of stage IV and autopsy cases. Japanese Journal Of Clinical Oncology. 2013;43(4):444-447.
Renumathy Dhanasekaran, et al. Hepatocellular carcinoma: current trends in worldwide epidemiology, risk factors, diagnosis and therapeutics. Hepat Med. 2012; 4 : 19-37.
Benson AB, Abrams TA, Ben-Josef E, et al. Hepatobiliary Cancers: Clinical Practice Guidelines in OncologyTM. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network: JNCCN. 2009;7(4):350-391.
World Health Organization, Globocan (2012). Liver Cancer: Estimated Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide in 2012. International Agency for Research on Cancer. http://globocan.iarc.fr/old/FactSheets/cancers/liver-new.asp#INCIDENCE1
Wanis KN, Pineda-Solis K, Tun-Abraham ME, et al. Management of colorectal cancer with synchronous liver metastases: impact of multidisciplinary case conference review. Hepatobiliary Surgery And Nutrition. 2017;6(3):162-169. doi:10.21037/hbsn.2017.01.01.
Zarour LR, Anand S, Billingsley KG, et al. Colorectal Cancer Liver Metastasis: Evolving Paradigms and Future Directions. Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2017;3(2):163-173. doi:10.1016/j.jcmgh.2017.01.00
Misiakos EP, Karidis NP, Kouraklis G. Current treatment for colorectal liver metastases. World J Gastroenterol 2011; 17(36): 4067-4075
Park, J. et al.(2014) The Evolution of Liver-Directed Treatments for Hepatic Colorectal Metastases. Oncology. 28(11): 991-1003.
Rahib et al. (2014). Projecting Cancer Incidence and Deaths to 2030: The Unexpected Burden of Thyroid, Liver, and Pancreas Cancers in the United States. Cancer Res 74(11): 2913-2921.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.