Liver cancer or hepatic cancer is a cancer that originates in the liver. Liver cancers are malignant tumors that grow on the surface or inside the liver. They are formed from either the liver itself or from structures within the liver, including blood vessels or the bile duct. Liver tumors are discovered on medical imaging equipment (often by accident) or present themselves symptomatically as an abdominal mass, abdominal pain, jaundice, nausea or liver dysfunction. The leading cause of liver cancer is viral infection with hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus.
The cancer usually forms secondary to cirrhosis caused by these viruses. For this reason, the highest rates of liver cancer occur where these viruses are endemic, including East-Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Liver cancers should not be confused with liver metastases, also known as secondary liver cancer, which are cancers that originate from organs elsewhere in the body and migrate to the liver.
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