What can be expected with liver cancer?

One of the most obvious effects of liver cancer is jaundice. This is a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes, caused by a buildup of bile in the body. Bile contains a pigment called bilirubin that causes the yellow colour. Jaundice is a sign that the liver is not functioning well, and can’t move the bile to the intestine, where it’s normally eliminated from the body.

Another symptom that may be experienced with liver cancer is ascites. This is an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, which may be caused by the tumor blocking the normal flow of fluids in the body (such as the lymphatic system). Ascites may accumulate more quickly as liver cancer progresses. It can be uncomfortable and it may cause shortness of breath if there’s pressure on the diaphragm.

People with liver cancer may also have pain from the tumor in the liver. The pain is usually on the right side of the body, where the liver is located. There may be shortness of breath if the cancer has spread from the liver to the lungs. Liver cancer can progress quickly, depending on the type of tumor and whether the cancer has spread to other areas in the body.

Someone with liver cancer may experience symptoms that are common to most cancers generally, which affect energy, strength, appetite, breathing and responsiveness.