- Concept of Liver Metastases
- Liver Function in an Organism
- Liver Metastases Causation
- Symptomatology of Liver Metastases
- Reason to See a Doctor
- Researches and Diagnosticity of Liver Metastases
- Liver Cancer Treatment Activities
- Long-Term Outlook for Liver Metastases
Concept of Liver Metastases
A metastasis in liver is a malignant growth, which invaded the liver from another body area. This type of cancer is also called the secondary liver cancer, as the primary liver cancer starts in the organ itself. For the most part, liver cancer is secondary.
Carcinogenic cells revealed in the liver are not real liver cancer cells. They are got into the liver from some distant organ affected with cancer, for instance, from colon, lungs or breast.
Therefore, there are some other names for this disorder:
- liver metastases;
- metastases to the liver;
- metastatic liver cancer.
Liver Function in an Organism
In order to have a clear idea about metastasis in liver, you should understand the liver function in the organism. First, it is the biggest organ inside the body. It is essential for life. This organ has two parts. Its location is under the ribcage and lung from the right body side.
Liver function involves the following:
- blood depuration of toxins;
- producing bile for fat digesting;
- creating various proteins, which are important for fuel and cell generation of the body;
- producing special ferments, which take part in many metabolic body functions;
- keeping glycogen used for body energy.
The liver is one of essential body organs. Life without liver is not possible.
Liver Metastases Causation
The likelihood of cancer invasion to the liver is contingent on the location of the initial cancerous tumor.
The initial cancers, which lead to liver invasion are cancerous tumors located in such organs as:
The initial cancerous tumor can be excised or cured. However, metastases in liver can appear several years after. If a patient had some organ affected by cancer, he or she should know the main signs of liver cancer and have regular medical inspections.
Six phases in the metastasis process are revealed. Of course, they are not attributable to all kinds of cancer.
- Local affect: oncogenous cells can shift from the initial area to the local healthy tissue.
- Penetrating of cancer cells into blood and lymphatic vessels.
- Oncogenous cells circulating throughout lymph vessels and blood vessels to the distant organs and tissues.
- Transudation and arrest mean that cancer cells stop their movement at distant areas of the body and penetrate into tissues through capillaries.
- Enlargement, which means that oncogenous cells grow at distant areas of the body producing small micro metastases (so called small cancer tumors).
- Angiogeny, which means that micro metastases favor the new blood vessels creation. These vessels supply tumors with nutrients and oxygen.
Symptomatology of Liver Metastases
Regrettably, the initial phase of liver metastasis can have no symptoms. In advanced phases, the cancer can make liver to become swollen.
This can result in the following symptoms:
- appetite loss;
- transient downward weight;
- urine of a dark color;
- different kinds of unhealthy tumescences;
- ache in the right shoulder;
- pain in the upper right abdomen;
- sweats and fever;
- lump on the right side of the abdomen below the ribcage.
Reason to See a Doctor
You should see your doctor in following cases:
- have severe vomiting;
- see bloody vomit;
- have recent, unexplained weight loss;
- have black bowel movements;
- have great difficulty swallowing.
It is strongly recommended to see your doctor is you have symptoms of liver metastasis. Your visits to doctors should be regular if you had cancer in the past.
Researches and Diagnosticity of Liver Metastases
While medical inspection, the doctor can grow suspicious due to liver cancer. For instance, the specialist can reveal lumps or symptoms listed above. Therefore, different sorts of medical researchers will be required to confirm the diagnosis. Mentioned medical researches include the following.
Liver test research blood serum markers, liver ferments and a number of proteins. Serum markers in the blood relate to cancer. In case of cancer presence in an organism, the level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) can be rather high. Liver ferments are also elevated too.
CT Scanning of the Abdomen
CT scanning is a kind of X-ray, which shows detailed visual representation of soft-tissue organs. Tissue containing cancer cells usually has a worn-out look.
Ultrasound Investigation of the Liver
While ultrasound investigation, high-frequency sound waves are transmitted through the body. They create echoes. Subsequently, the echoes are used to create map-like computer-generated image of soft-tissues structures of the body.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) provides particularly distinct images of internal organs and soft-tissue structures. It is a combination of radio waves, a large magnet and a computer.
Dye-stuff is injected into an artery. As soon as images of the body along that artery are made, high-contrast images of internal structures can result.
The organoscope is a thin tube with a lamp and a biopsy tool. It is brought into the body through a little transection. Thus, biopsy is taken for the further examining under the microscope. It is the most secure method of cancer diagnosticity.
Cancer Staging Procedure
As soon as tests` results are ready, the doctor can proceed with cancer staging procedure. The cancer gets a number (I- IV). Staging procedure classifies from a localized tumor (I) to widespread metastases (invasion by cancer) in the bloodstream, lymphatic system and other organs and tissues (II- IV).
Liver Cancer Treatment Activities
There are several methods of treatment of metastatic liver cancer.
The selection of treatment method depends on the following aspects:
- the age of a patient and general medical condition;
- the size, area and quantity of metastases;
- area of the initial tumor;
- previous methods of cancer treatment of the patient.
Consistent cancer therapies provide treatment to the entire body through the blood flow.
The following therapies refer to them:
Chemical therapy is a kind of therapy, which uses pharmacologic agents to destroy malignant cells.
Biological response modifier is a kind of treatment, which uses immune proteins, growth-stimulating factors, vaccines. These samples are worked out to raise or recover the defense system, which should fight against malignant cells. This kind of therapy can also reduce collateral damage of other cancer treatments and even impact tumors directly.
Targeted therapy applies pharmacologic agents including homogeneous antibodies, which were worked out in the lab and created to reveal and anchor specific parts of cancerous cells. Thus, they help targeted therapy, which uses drugs, radiation. They also block the growth of malignant cells. This kind of treatment has smaller collateral damage than other cancer therapies.
Hormonal therapy supplements, disables or removes hormones. This kind of cancer treatment is used to decelerate or to stop the growth of malignant cells (especially in case of breast or prostate cancer).
This kind of cancer treatment is aimed at malignant cells and tissues, which is close to them. It can be used at early cancer stages.
Beam-therapy uses high-energy radiation to destroy cancerous cells and diminish tumors.
It can be with the use of:
- radiation machines (external beam radiation);
- radioactive materials placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation);
- radioactive substances that travel through the bloodstream.
Surgical resection is possible when there are a small number of tumors, affecting only a small part of the liver.
Long-Term Outlook for Liver Metastases
In nearly all cases, there is no cure for liver cancer. However, current treatments can help to improve life expectancy and relieve symptoms. On medical evidence of the American Cancer Society, about 15 % of patients diagnosed with liver cancer can expect to live another five years.
The relative success of treatment depends on the location of the initial cancer and how much of it has spread to the liver.
Current research is looking for new methods to fight and destroy cancerous cells, such as hyper stimulating the immune response and disrupting individual steps in the metastatic process.