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Liver Cancer - A disease in which malignant cells develop in the tissues of the liver (the largest internal organ). The most common type of primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which arises from the liver cells themselves (hepatocytes). Another type, cholangiocarcinomas, is cancer that starts in the cells of the small tubes (bile ducts) of the liver. Angiosarcomas and hemangiosarcomas are rare forms of liver cancer that begin in the blood vessels of the liver. Hepatoblastoma is a rare type of liver cancer that develops in very young children.
Most forms of liver cancer in the United States are secondary liver cancer. This means the cancer found in the liver did not start there, but spread (metastasized) to the liver from another part of the body, such as the colon, lungs, or breasts. In this case, it is named for the organ or tissue in which the cancer began.
About 90 percent of liver cancer patients are between the ages of 45 and 85. Liver cancer usually occurs in older males, with the average age of diagnosis being 65. Hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver are two risk factors for primary liver cancer.
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