The liver is the largest organ inside the body. 1
The liver does many important jobs. These include:
- breaking down drugs and alcohol, and getting rid of toxins
- producing bile to help dissolve fat so it can be easily digested
- storing and releasing sugars (glucose) as needed storing nutrients
- making proteins to help blood clot and to balance fluid in the body.
Liver cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the liver, forming a cancerous tumour. There are many different types of primary liver cancer, which include:2
- hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or hepatoma, is the most common type of primary liver cancer and it starts in the main cell type in the liver, the hepatocytes
- cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer, starts in the cells lining the bile ducts (which connect the liver to the bowel and gall bladder)
- angiosarcoma, which starts in the blood vessels. This is a rare type of liver cancer that is more likely to occur in people over 70.
Secondary cancer in the liver is a cancer that started in another part of the body but has now spread (metastasised) to the liver. 4