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Hepatoma is primary liver cancer which occurs in the liver itself and did not spread from another area of the body to the liver. Often associated with cirrhosis of liver and hepatitis B infections, malignant hepatoma is common among alcoholics. It is found in people above 40 years of age and more noticed among men than women.

While the exact cause of malignant hepatoma is not known, there are several risk factors that contributes to the cause of hepatoma. These include being above 40 years of age, male sex, history of cirrhosis and exposure to hepatitis viruses B, C, D and G. Symptoms of malignant hepatoma may be the same as other liver diseases, including pain and swelling in the abdominal area, loss of weight, appetite, jaundice, fatigue and fever. Crucial pain extending to the back and shoulder is another symptom, when the cancer progresses. A collection of fluid known as ascites in the abdomen occurs in some patients, while some show signs of bleeding in the digestive tract.

The procedure for diagnosis is for the medical practitioner to go through the medical history of the patient first and physically examine the patient's abdomen for lumps if any. The liver could be swollen, hard and sore. Certain diagnostic parameters inclusive of blood tests are conducted to determine and evaluate the liver condition and function. An ultrasound and CT scan are undertaken to detect possible tumors in the liver. If necessary, a sample of liver tissue is sent for a biopsy to confirm if the hepatoma is malignant. Sometimes, a doctor looks for chest x-ray to understand if the liver tumor is primary or has spread to the lungs as well.

Hepatomas are neither contagious nor hereditary. They could be cured, if detected in the early stages. But unfortunately, most hepatomas are detected late making the rate of survival very low. In most advanced stages, malignant hepatoma cannot be cured although treated to relieve pain. Surgery is recommended if cancer is contained in one lobe of the liver and the patient is healthy enough without afflictions of cirrhosis, jaundice or ascited. Sometimes, chemotherapy or radiation therapy is undertaken to destroy the cancer cells in order to slow the disease spread. Although chemotherapy is not very successful but is tried in patients whose tumor is too large or advanced to be surgically resected. Liver transplant is adopted in patients who suffer acute liver damage with too large a portion of the tumor in the liver.

ALT blood test

ALT blood test determines the level of the enzyme alanine transaminase (ALT) in the blood. ALT is found highly concentrated in the liver and in smaller amounts in the kidneys, heart, muscles and pancreas. This test is also called Serum glutamate and pyruvate transaminase (SGPT). Normal ALT blood levels lie between 4 - 36 units per liter (U/L) or 4-36 international units per liter (IU/L). Often this test is done along with AST blood test. ALT is measured to see if the liver is damaged or diseased. When the liver is damaged or diseased, it releases ALT in to the blood stream causing blood ALT levels to rise. An ALT blood test is often prescribed to identify liver diseases such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, jaundice and liver damage. Other causes for elevated blood ALT levels are thyroid disease, lead poisoning, polymuositis, heart attack and liver cancer.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) represents a breakthrough in medical diagnostics and research. Nearly 60 million investigations with MRI are performed every year worldwide. This imaging technique was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2003. MRI has been used since the beginning of 1980s. MRI is primarily used in medical settings to produce high quality images of the inside of the human body. Magnetic field of radio waves energy is used to capture pictures of organs and structures inside the body. The MRI scan used magnetic and radio waves and therefore there is no exposure as in X rays or any other damaging forms of radiation. Since radiation is not used, the procedure can be repeated without problems.

MRI is used to examine the joints, spine and the soft parts of the human body such as liver, kidneys and spleen. An MRI scan is used in the diagnosis of Diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal gas, chronic pain, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, Cardiomyopathy, Devic's syndrome and headaches in children. It is used in to study specific conditions such as:

  • Trauma to the brain, bleeding and swelling in the head
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Tumors or inflammation of the spine
  • Trauma of the spinal cord
  • Problems of vertebrae or intervertebral discs of the spine
  • Tears and aneurysms in the structure of heart and aorta
  • Information on glands and organs in the abdomen
  • Structure of joints, soft tissues and bones of the body
  • To direct surgery or to defer surgery.

During a MRI Scanning procedure, patient is made to lie in a closed area inside a magnetic field. This creates claustrophobic sensation in certain patients during the procedure. Normally a mild sedative is given prior to the MRI scan and this helps to alleviate the claustrophobic sensation. The new open MRI is open on three sides and this helps to alleviate the feeling of claustrophobia. The new open MRI scanner provides quality imaging with highest performance specifications with a powerful and stronger magnet. Scanning is also done much faster. It has the ability to detect diseases more accurately.

Tags: #Hepatoma #ALT blood test #MRI
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: April 22, 2024