Advanced liver cancer symptoms

Updated February 21, 2017

The liver is the largest organ in the human body, made up of two parts, the right lobe and the left lobe. It is associated with many bodily functions, but its most important one is that it helps cleanse the blood. It also creates bile and enzymes to help digest food. The problem is that liver cells, as with cells in many bodily organs, can turn cancerous. One of the most common symptoms is rapid weight loss, which doctors usually understand as being 10 per cent of your body weight (a stone for every 10 stone you weigh).

Advanced liver cancer

Advanced liver cancer is cancer that is present in both of the liver's lobes or has spread to other bodily organs. Unfortunately, it can't be cured, but people with advanced liver cancer will sometimes seek treatment to slow the progress of the cancer. These treatments can be chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a form of alternative therapy. Chinese male immigrants have a higher rate of liver cancer than the UK average rate. Caucasians have the lowest, while Black African, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian men fall in between. Among UK women, those of Pakistani origin had the highest incidence of liver cancer; followed by Bangladeshi, Chinese, Black African and Indian women, according to a 2012 study at King's College, London.

Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain is the most-common symptom of liver cancer. It usually means that the cancerous tumour has spread across a large area of the liver. The pain is felt in the upper right area of the abdomen. Sometimes the area might not be painful, but it could be tender.

Cirrhosis-like symptoms

Unexplained weight loss or fevers are signs of cirrhosis of the liver. If symptoms get to this point, then patients should also be checked for cancer. Other cirrhosis-like symptoms are swelling of the abdomen or breasts, red palms, easy bruising or jaundice (yellowing of the skin). If you haven't engaged in any of the risk factors for cirrhosis, yet are seeing the symptoms, it means that your liver isn't working correctly. This could be because the liver is being consumed by cancer.

When symptoms occur

Symptoms may not present themselves until the cancer has reached an advanced stage, which is why regular check-ups are important. The earlier the cancer can be caught, the higher the chance of survival. These symptoms may not all present themselves, but they are potential symptoms of liver cancer.


There is no cure for advanced liver cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy may be useful in relieving some of the pain associated with the cancer. However, the two-year survival rate of advanced liver cancer is less than 5%.

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About the Author

James Rada, Jr. was a newspaper reporter for eight years and earned 23 awards from the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association, Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland State Teachers’ Association and CNHI. He also worked for 12 years as a marketing communications writer, earning a Print Copywriter of the Year Award from the Utah Ad Federation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications.