Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer. It is often associated with underlying viral hepatitis or other forms of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. It is a rare tumor in the United States, but is very common in areas of the world where Hepatitis B is prevalent.
Hepatocellular carcinoma may present with pain in the right upper abdomen over the liver. It may be associated with jaundice or yellowing of the skin, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, fatigue, and weight loss.
Hepatocellular carcinoma is typically diagnosed by an imaging study of the liver, such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI. Blood testing will often reveal elevated liver enzymes and an abnormal level of Alpha-Fetoprotein. A biopsy of the tumor may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma is dependent on the size of the tumor, the number of lesions, evidence of metastatic disease and the underlying age and health of the patient. Treatment options include surgical resection, techniques to ablate or destroy the tumor, chemotherapy or even liver transplantation.