The liver can be affected by primary liver cancer, which arises in the liver, or by cancer which forms in other parts of the body and then spreads to the liver. Most liver cancer is secondary or metastatic, meaning it started elsewhere in the body. Primary liver cancer, which starts in the liver, accounts for about 2% of cancers in the U.S., but up to half of all cancers in some undeveloped countries. This is mainly due to the prevalence of hepatitis, caused by contagious viruses, that predisposes a person to liver cancer. In the U.S., primary liver cancer strikes twice as many men as women, at an average age of 67.
Because the liver is made up of several different types of cells, several types of tumors can form there. Some of these are benign (noncancerous), and some are cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). These tumors have different causes and are treated differently. The outlook for health or recovery depends on what type of tumor you have.
Thirty million Americans – one in every 10 – are or have been affected by a liver, biliary or gallbladder disease.
Liver disease and cirrhosis are the 7th leading cause of death among adults between the ages of 25 and 64 in the US.
Chronic hepatitis C and alcoholic liver disease are the leading causes of cirrhosis in the US.
Hepatitis C is the number one reason for liver transplantation in the US.
The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself.
The liver filters over a liter of blood each minute, removing toxins such as air pollutants, pesticides, cigarette smoke, environmental chemicals, alcohol, and prescription and non-prescription drugs.
Cirrhosis is the irreversible condition marked by the accumulation of scar tissue in the liver. Cirrhosis can be caused by alcohol consumption, hepatitis, right-sided heart failure and other conditions.
While alcoholic hepatitis is found mostly in alcoholics, it also occurs in people who are merely social drinkers.
There are several types of liver cancer based on the type of cells that becomes cancerous.