October also came to warn of liver cancer, which kills thousands every year. In Brazil, the National Cancer Institute (INCA) does not have statistics, however, it is known that cancer is the leader in the number of cancer deaths, with more than 700,000 deaths annually. With this, the global campaign #OctoberIs4Livers, which began in 2018, attempts to reduce disease rates and support those affected by liver cancer each year.
Awareness of the disease is essential, says Ronaldo Andrade, a surgeon who specializes in abdominal transplants. “For this, it is essential to share good information and be aware of risk factors that can contribute to the development of liver cancer,” he comments.
The campaign goals in 2022 are:
- Promote global public awareness of chronic diseases, including viral hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease, that increase the risk of liver cancer;
- Promote resources and lessons for culturally healthy eating – through the “Fighting Liver Cancer with Food” video series;
- Promote screening and early detection of HCC – recommended for patients who are part of the risk group, through equity roundtables and videos to explore global cancer disparities;
Symptoms of liver cancer
In the early stages of the disease, the vast majority of people do not show symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, patients may show:
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Losing weight for no apparent reason
- Vomiting and nausea
- Abdominal swelling
- Having a mass in the abdomen
- white stools
The tumor may develop from certain risk factors. According to the specialist, the main ones are infection caused by hepatitis B or C, cirrhosis of the liver, excessive alcohol consumption, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (causes fat in the liver), among others.
Precisely because symptoms appear in more advanced stages of the disease, early diagnosis remains a challenge. If an individual is part of a liver cancer risk group, some tests should be done. When symptoms appear, lab tests, imaging tests, and even a biopsy are recommended for analysis.
treatment or treatment
If the tumor is in only one part of the liver, surgical removal may be done. In the case of some patients with cirrhosis who cannot undergo resection of a part of the liver, it is possible to opt for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and even liver transplantation.
It should also be noted that in cases of metastases – when the tumor has expanded to other organs, surgery can also be performed. The specialist will determine the best alternative for each case. This will depend on the tumor type, size and stage,” he says.
When is a liver transplant recommended?
This procedure is usually indicated for confined liver tumors and even when organ function is affected by cirrhosis. The transplant can be done through a living donor – in the case of a compatible family member – or from a donor after brain death.
In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, vaccination against hepatitis B is also important in the case of hepatitis C, as there is no immunization, it can be prevented through the use of condoms during Sexual intercourse and not sharing sharp objects.
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