The term "liver cancer" refers to tumours of different forms and locations. These cancers can be primary, i.e. the malignant tumour has developed from the cells of the liver, or secondary to a tumour, often pulmonary or mammary, whose metastases have reached the liver.
This cancer, which affects between 2 and 5 people per 100 000 in Europe, is more common in men than in women. In three-quarters of cases, cirrhosis precedes the tumor. Other liver diseases can also develop into cancer, including type I and III glycogenosis, acute porphyria or tyrosinemia.
Symptoms of the disease
• For primary cancers, any deterioration in the clinical status of a cirrhotic patient - for example, the development of jaundice, hepatic encephalopathy or digestive bleeding due to ruptured esophageal varices - should alert and trigger the search for hepatocellular carcinoma (another name for liver cancer).
• In secondary tumors, sometimes the patient has no symptoms and the discovery of metastases is fortuitous. But in general, there is a deterioration in the person's general condition that can be associated with pain in the right hypochondrium (part of the abdomen above the navel line).
• Surgery is the most appropriate treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma. But there are many surgical contraindications, which explains why only 5 to 10% of carcinomas are operated on.
• Cyberknife® is a non-invasive health care system that provides extremely accurate radiotherapy. It can be used to treat fragile patients for whom surgical procedures are contraindicated.
• General chemotherapy is not very effective.
• Chemo-embolization combines chemotherapy with a blockage of the blood that feeds the tumor. This technique reduces the volume of the tumour, which can then sometimes be operated on.
• For patients with a tumour of less than 3 cm, percutaneous injection of absolute alcohol into the tumour tissue is recommended. This method results in necrosis of the lesion.