Liver Cancer

This year, about 40,710 people will be diagnosed with liver cancer and more than 28,920 people will die of the disease. Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and cirrhosis are all linked to liver cancer. You can greatly reduce your risk for liver cancer by preventing or diagnosing and treating these diseases early.

Risk Factors

You may be at increased risk for liver cancer if you:

  • Drink alcohol in excess. Drinking alcohol can lead to cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, which can lead to liver cancer
  • Use tobacco products
  • Are obese. People who are obese are more likely to have fatty liver disease and diabetes, which are both linked to liver cancer
  • Are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals
  • Harbor the Hepatitis B (HBV) or Hepatitis C virus (HCV)

You are at risk for HBV if you:

  • Have sex with someone who is infected
  • Have multiple sexual partners
  • Have a sexually transmitted disease
  • Are a man who has sex with other men
  • Inject drugs
  • Live with someone who has chronic HBV
  • Have traveled to a country where many people have HBV
  • Are exposed to blood at work
  • Are on long-term hemodialysis
  • Were born to a mother with HBV

You are at risk for HCV if you:

  • Are exposed to blood at work
  • Were born between 1945 and 1965
  • Have ever injected drugs
  • Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992 (This is when blood and organs started being screened for HCV)
  • Got a tattoo or body piercing done with unsterile equipment
  • Were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987
  • Are on long-term hemodialysis
  • Are infected with HIV


If you experience any of these symptoms, see your health care professional immediately.

  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • An enlarged liver, felt as a mass under the right side of your ribs
  • An enlarged spleen, felt as a mass under the left side of your ribs
  • Pain in the abdomen or near the right shoulder blade
  • Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Fever
  • Enlarged veins on the belly that become visible through the skin
  • Abnormal bruising or bleeding
  • Some liver tumors create hormones that affect organs other than the liver. These hormones may cause:
    • Nausea, confusion, constipation, weakness or muscle problems caused by high blood calcium levels
    • Fatigue or fainting caused by low blood sugar levels
    • Breast enlargement and /or shrinking of the testicles in men
    • A red and flushed appearance caused by high counts of red blood cells
    • High cholesterol levels


  • Do not use intravenous (IV) drug, unless under the supervision of a health care professional
  • Abstain from sex or, if you do have sex, use condoms the right way every time
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Early Detection

  • Get vaccinated for HBV if you are at risk. There is no vaccine for HCV
  • Get tested if you are at risk for HBV or HCV
  • Seek treatment if you are diagnosed with HBV or HCV
  • Detect and treat diseases that increase your risk for liver cancer. Certain inherited diseases can cause cirrhosis, which increases your risk for liver cancer.

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Treatment Options

Treatment depends on the type and stage of liver cancer. Liver cancer is treated through surgery, tumor ablation, tumor embolization, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy.

Stop Cancer Before It Starts!®