Malignant hepatoma, which is primary cancer of the liver is termed hepatocarcinoma. Hepatocarcinoma is secondary in about 20% to either a viral hepatitide infection (hepatitis B and C) and about 80% to cirrhosis. In some cases, it is metastasis of cancer, spread from elsewhere in the body. It is also associated with chronic alcohol abuse. Hepatocellular carcinoma is relatively rare in the United States but quite common in the African and Southeast Asian countries. In fact, this is the fifth most common tumor worldwide. In some African countries the disease onsets between late teens and 30s although the normal occurrence is in patients over age 50. Hepatocarcinoma is more common in males than females.
Hepatocarcinoma patients are put under surveillance with ultrasound. Possibly the best method of diagnosis involves a CT scan of the abdomen. This is done using intravenous contrast agent and three phase scanning, enabling the radiologist to detect subtle tumors as well. Another possible alternative to a CT imaging is MRI, using contrast agents which is used to detect the presence of a tumor capsule. Diagnosis is further confirmed by percutaneous biopsy and histopathological parameters.
Treatment for hepatocarcinoma depends especially on the size of the tumor and staging. Some of the treatment options are liver transplantation, which is to replace the liver with a cadaver liver or a live donor lobe; surgical resection wherein the tumor is removed if diagnosed early; Percutaneous ethanol injections in case of solitary tumors and transcatheter arterial chemoembolization for large tumors.
Sometimes sealed source radiotherapy is used to destroy the tumor from within. Here, the radioactive particles are deposited to the area of interest using a catheter. Radio frequency ablation uses high frequency radio waves to ablate the tumor. As an adjuvant therapy in resected patients, intra-arterial-iodine-131-lipiodol administration is performed. High intensity frequency ultrasound is a relatively new but powerful technique used to treat the tumor. Hormonal therapy and adjuvant chemotherapy are other treatment modalities adopted. Cryosurgery is yet another new technique that can destroy tumors in a variety of sites, in the brain, breast, kidney, prostate and liver.
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: January 20, 2019