Liver Cancer Symptoms in Women

Liver cancer is one of the most common types of cancers. It begins in the liver which is located in the upper right section of the abdomen below the diaphragm.  The most common form of this cancer is formed in the major liver cells which are the hepatocytes. Therefore, this disease is called hepatocellular carcinoma. Liver cancer appears to affect mainly Africans and Asians in comparison to Caucasians.

Liver Cancer Symptoms in Women

There is a slight gender distinction where liver cancer is concerned. It occurs more in men than in women. The symptoms of this cancer are relatively the same for both genders, but there are some signs that are more common in women.

Common Symptoms of Liver Cancer

The early stages of liver cancer are not usually accompanied by signs and symptoms. The more common ones that will appear eventually include the following:

  • Signs of jaundice
  • Chalky, white feces
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling of the abdomen

Symptoms of Liver Cancer in Women

As it is for men, the symptoms of liver cancer in women usually only become evident when the disease is already in the advanced stage. Some symptoms that may appear more notably in women include the following:

  • Bloating or fullness in the abdomen
  • Pain in the right shoulder
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Stomach cramps
  • Changes in appetite
  • Undue weight loss

It is important to note that some of these symptoms are often confused with signs of PMS or pregnancy. One or two may also be signs of ovarian cancer.

Stages of Liver Cancer

Doctors use a process called “staging” to determine and explain how much a cancer has spread and the associated possibilities of surgery to control its effects. Stages are numbered from 1 through 4(I to IV). The following are the stages of liver cancer.

Stage I: A single tumor found in the liver.

Stage II: A single tumor found but has spread to the blood vessels or there are multiple tumors smaller than 5cm.

Stage III:More than one tumor present that is larger than 5cm or the cancer has spread to other sections of the body such as the blood vessels, lymph nodes or another organ.

Stage IV:The cancer has now spread to several other parts of the body such as in the bones, blood vessels, or lungs.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Liver Cancer

Despite some slight differences in the symptoms of liver cancer in men and women, diagnosing and treating liver cancer are the same for the genders. Making a diagnosis involves a blood test, CT scan, a biopsy of the liver, and MRI. There are also tests to determine the stage of the disease in the patient.

Liver cancer is easier to treat in its early stage. Unfortunately it is not usually caught early. The more advanced the disease, the harder it is to be treated.

1. Treatments for Early-Stage Liver Cancer

If your tumor can be removed with surgery, then you have the best chances of being cured. However, because most liver cancers are discovered at the second stage or later, an operation may not be possible. Chemotherapy may be used to shrink tumors to make them easier to be removed during surgery. Following surgery chemotherapy may be used to destroy any cancer cells that are still present. Patients who go into remission must still be monitored closely in case it reoccurs. There is also the option of getting a liver transplant as another option of a cure.

2. Treatments for Advanced Liver Cancer

When liver cancer has reached an advanced stage, most of the treatment options are focused on making the patient comfortable and maintaining a certain quality of life. Chemotherapy or low doses of radiation therapy can help to relieve pain and control the spread of the disease. Patients are usually given strong pain killers and medication to help reduce swelling, nausea and to encourage a better appetite.

Sufferers of advanced liver cancer are likely to enlist in clinical trials of experimental treatments. Some of these include injecting lethal substances directly into tumor cells, freezing the tumor cells, or using specific biological agents to stimulate more aggressive reactions in immune cells.

Living with Liver Cancer

Being diagnosed with a critical illness is a difficult thing for anyone to bear. Nevertheless, each person will find his or her own way to cope with liver cancer. While there are no fix-all solutions, there are some suggestions that may help.

Ways Might Help

How To Do It Or How It'll Help

Know your cancer

Find out as much as you can about your liver cancer. Speak with your doctor about the stage, treatment options and prognosis of your condition. The more you know the more confident you may feel about making informed decisions for treatment.

Seek help from friends and family

Your friends and family are going to be a much needed support system as you go through this phase in your life. They can provide practical and emotional help such as taking care of your affairs in your absence or being a shoulder to lean on when you’re feeling low. You may also find it helpful to speak with a professional counselor or to join a support group for cancer survivors.

Keep a healthy weight

Try to maintain a healthy weight. You can do this by eating a healthy diet and sticking to an exercise regimen throughout the week. Lower the amount of calories you consume every day. Make an effort to lose weight at a very slow pace each week such as between one or two pounds.

Cope with the pain

If you want to avoid the side effects of pain medication or require more help to deal with pain, you may speak with your doctor about alternate methods to manage your pain. These include but not limited to: music therapy, acupuncture, deep breathing, massage and acupressure.

Plan ahead

Having an illness that is potentially life threatening can inevitably bring you closer to facing your mortality. Consider making a living will and any other directives that may become necessary in the event of your death.

Here is a video about people who have been diagnosed with liver cancer which you might find helpful: 

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