Primary liver cancer usually does not cause symptoms in the early stages. When it does have symptoms, they vary from person to person. As the tumor grows, it may cause:
- Unintended weight loss
- Pain in the right side of the upper abdomen or around the right shoulder blade
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling or bloating in the abdomen
- Feeling of fullness after a small meal
- Hard lump below the ribs on the right side
- Tiredness or weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Jaundice: Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Jaundice is caused by high levels of bilirubin, a yellow pigment that results from the breakdown of red blood cells. It is usually processed by the liver and passes through the bile ducts before being excreted. Excess bilirubin can be a sign of liver or bile duct malfunction.
- Itching: Itchy skin can be caused when excess levels of bilirubin reach the skin.
- Pale stools
- Dark urine
- Swollen veins on the abdomen
- Becoming sicker if you have hepatitis or cirrhosis
Certain types of liver cancer produce hormones that may cause:
- High blood-calcium levels that may cause constipation, nausea or confusion
- Low blood-sugar levels that may cause tiredness or feeling faint
- Enlarged breasts or shrinking of testicles in men
- High red-blood cell count that may cause redness in the face
These symptoms do not always mean you have liver cancer. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor since they may signal other health problems.
Some people have an elevated risk of developing liver cancer. Review the liver cancer screening guidelines to see if you need to be tested.
Cancer screening exams can detect cancer early, when the chances for successfully treating disease are greatest.
MD Anderson offers liver cancer screenings at the following locations:
- MD Anderson in Sugar Land
- MD Anderson West Houston
- MD Anderson The Woodlands
- Texas Medical Center
MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials
offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.