Liver metastases (secondary liver cancer) are cancerous tumors that have spread (metastasized) to the liver from another part of the body. Most cases of liver metastases begin as a tumor in the colon or rectum. This primarily occurs because blood supply from the intestines is connected directly to the liver through a blood vessel called the portal vein. Although less common, liver metastases can also begin as tumors in the breast, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, lung, and skin.
While there are some early warning signs of liver metastases, symptoms during early stages may be minor or non-existent. If you have any known risk factors of liver metastases, it is important to speak with your doctor about whether you should receive regular testing.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Liver Metastases?
When it comes to liver metastases, more treatment options may be available when diagnosed in an early stage. This can increase a patient’s life expectancy, quality of life, and improve their chances for a better outcome. While liver metastases don’t always have recognizable symptoms in early stages, there are some early warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored.
Early warning signs of liver metastases can include:
- Losing weight without trying
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling full after a small meal
- Nausea or vomiting
- Frequent itching
- A firm lump on the right side below the ribcage
- An enlarged spleen (felt as a mass under the ribs on the left side)
- Discomfort near the right shoulder blade or in the back
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Unusual fatigue
In its later stages, secondary liver cancer can cause the liver to swell or obstruct the normal flow of blood and bile. When this occurs, patients may experience the following liver metastases symptoms:
- Dark-colored urine
- Abdominal swelling or bloating
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
- Sweats and fever
- Enlarged liver
In addition to awareness of the symptoms, it is also beneficial to know the risk factors of liver metastases. These can include cirrhosis (scarring due to liver damage), previous hepatitis B infections, inherited metabolic diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions. But having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not necessarily mean you will get the disease. Conversely, some patients who have the disease may present few or no known risk factors. If you believe you are at high risk or notice any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
How We Care for You
At USA Oncology Centers, our goal is to provide treatment options that give you the best possible survival rate and quality of life. These may include transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), radioembolization (Y-90 SIRT), and other minimally invasive treatments. Depending on the location and stage of liver cancer, our interventional oncologists will set a treatment plan that works best for you.
If you’ve been diagnosed with secondary liver cancer and want to learn more about the treatments we offer, reach out to our team by calling 855.870.4747 or schedule an initial consultation with our industry-leading interventional oncologists.
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