Liver Cancer Symptoms, Risks, and Diagnosis

Liver Cancer Symptoms and Signs

In the early stages of liver cancer, symptoms aren't usually acute or intense. When symptoms do appear, the disease is often advanced.

Liver cancer symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hard lump on the right side, below the rib cage
  • Nausea
  • Pain near the right shoulder blade
  • Pain or swelling in the upper abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss

Liver Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors increase a person's chance of getting cancer. Sometimes, people can change their habits or jobs to reduce or eliminate liver cancer risk factors.

Risk factors and warning signs are similar for each type of liver cancer.

Factors that increase your risk of liver cancer may include:

  • Cirrhosis — this disease, which causes long-term liver damage, can lead to liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis B or hepatitis C — people with these inflammatory liver diseases are at a higher risk of liver cancer.
  • Family history — people with close relatives who have had liver cancer may be more at risk.

Liver Cancer Diagnosis and Staging

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center specialists use state-of-the-art technologies to detect, diagnose, and stage liver cancer.

Staging makes sure each member of the care team knows the exact type, size, location, and spread of the cancer.

Tests to diagnose the type and stage of your liver cancer may include:

  • Computed tomography (CT) — this imaging scan provides a 360° view of the body and creates 3D images. CT scans show a higher level of detail and take more accurate pictures than x-rays.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — this imaging test uses radio waves and magnetic energy combined with computer enhancement to take cross-sectional pictures.
  • Positron emission-computed tomography (PET-CT) — this approach combines PET and CT imaging technologies. A low level of radiation and small amount of radioactive dye create a detailed image that reflects your body’s biochemical activity.
  • X-ray — this test uses electromagnetic radiation to take pictures of structures inside the body.
  • Ultrasound — this test measures the echoes of high-frequency sound waves as they bounce off different structures of the body to produce images.

Liver Cancer Prognosis and Outcomes

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is the only cancer center in the region recognized by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Our liver cancer experts consider not just the stage or type of cancer but also factors that affect your well-being.

Nutrition and pain specialists work with oncologists and other members of your care team.

Our goal is to make sure the entire care team's focus is on you — not just your liver cancer.

Your liver cancer prognosis will depend on:

  • Your diagnosis.
  • Your overall health.
  • How well your care team expects your liver cancer treatment plan to work.

In all cases, we will work at our highest level of expertise to achieve the best results possible.

Make an Appointment for Liver Cancer Symptoms

Call 412-647-2811 to make an appointment for liver cancer symptoms and care at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.