Home Health & Hospice

October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month

Homecare Insider, October 14, 2013


Did you know that October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month? According to the National Cancer Institute there have been an estimated 30,640 new cases and 21,670 deaths from liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in the United States in 2013.

The liver is the largest organ inside the body. It helps digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. There are two types of liver cancer that you should be aware of: primary and secondary (also known as metastatic). Primary liver cancer originates in the liver while secondary liver cancer begins somewhere else within the body and then spreads to the liver.

Take some time this month to remind staff members and yourself of the common risk factors associated with liver cancer:

  • Having hepatitis B or C
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Having cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver
  • Having hemochromatosis, an iron storage disease
  • Obesity and diabetes

Symptoms of liver cancer may include:

  • A hard lump or pain on the right side of the abdomen.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin
  • Unusual tiredness.
  • Nausea.
  • Loss of appetite.

It is important to remember that liver cancer sufferers may not have symptoms until the cancer is advanced, making it hard to treat. Awareness and education can be critical for diagnosis and treatment.