Liver cancer is a cancer which starts in the liver, as opposed to a cancer which originates in another organ and migrates to the liver, known as a liver metastasis. For a thorough understanding of liver cancer it is important to have an understanding of how the liver functions.
The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. It is located below the right lung and under the ribcage. The liver is divided into two lobes: the right lobe and the left lobe. Protein is obtained by the liver from the portal vein, which carries nutrient-rich blood from the intestines to the liver.
The liver and kidneys, these body organs process chemicals.
The hepatic artery supplies the liver with blood that is rich in oxygen. Several distinct types of tumors can develop in the liver because the liver is made up of various cell types.
Tumors that are cancerous are termed malignant and tumors that do not contain cancer cells are termed benign. Liver cancer thus consists of the presence of malignant hepatic tumors—tumors or growths on or in the liver (medical terms pertaining to the liver often start in hepato, or hepatic from the Greek word for liver, hēpar, stem hēpat-).
Liver tumors may be discovered on medical imaging, which may occur incidentally to imaging performed for a different disease than the cancer itself, or may present symptomatically, as an abdominal mass, abdominal pain, jaundice, nausea or some other liver dysfunction.
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