Liver Cancer Information
Learn More About Cancer of the Liver: Chat with Us | Email Us
What is Liver Cancer?
Liver cancer begins in the tissues of the liver, an organ that sits in the upper right portion of the abdomen, beneath the diaphragm and above the stomach. The liver has many functions. It helps store nutrients from food, aids with digestion, and clears toxins from the body.
Liver cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, with a high rate of incidence in Africa and Asia. Liver cancer is less common in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates there were 24,120 new cases of liver cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2010.
Types of Liver Cancer
There are several types of liver cancer based on the type of cells that becomes cancerous.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), also called hepatoma, HCC is the most common type of liver cancer accounting for approximately 75 percent of all liver cancers. HCC starts in the main type of liver cells, called hepatocellular cells. Most cases of HCC are the result of infection with hepatitis B or C, or cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcoholism.
- Fibrolamellar HCC is a rare type of HCC that is typically more responsive to treatment than other types of liver cancer.
- Cholangiocarcinoma (Bile Duct Cancer) occurs in the small, tube-like bile ducts within the liver that carry bile to the gallbladder. Cholangiocarcinomas account for 10-20 percent of all liver cancers. Intrahepatic bile duct cancer begins in ducts within the liver. Extrahepatic bile duct cancer develops in ducts outside of the liver.
- Angiosarcoma, also called hemangiocarcinoma, accounts for about 1 percent of all liver cancers. Angiosarcomas begin in the blood vessels of the liver and grow quickly. They are typically diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Most of the information in this section deals with HCC. For more detailed information about cholangiocarcinoma, please see our Bile Duct Cancer Center.
Next Topic: Liver Cancer Risk Factors