What symptoms should lead you to the doctor

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from: Julian Gutman

Tenderness in the upper abdomen or loss of appetite: two symptoms of liver cancer. You can find out how to reduce your risks and what symptoms you should see a doctor for here.

  • In Germany, an average of about 8,790 people are diagnosed with liver cancer each year, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma. But the number is growing: In the past 35 years, the number of new cases has doubled in both men and women.
  • The earlier the cancer is caught, the better the chances of a cure. So you should have the following symptoms checked by a doctor immediately.
  • A particular risk group in particular has a significantly increased risk of developing liver cancer, which is why you should go regularly for early detection.

Loss of appetite, upper abdominal pain and weakness can have many causes – eg inflammation of the gastric mucosa. But serious diseases such as liver cancer can also be behind this. The following symptoms occur in an advanced stage of the disease and must be clarified by a doctor immediately:

  • Pressing pain in the upper abdomen
  • Anorexia
  • nausea
  • Increased body temperature for an unknown reason
  • Unwanted weight loss
  • weakness
  • A bulge palpable under the right costal arch

    Increased yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and itching

Upper abdominal pain is one of the symptoms that can accompany liver cancer. © Oleksandr Latkon / Imago

Liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma, as the type of cancer is known, usually causes no symptoms at first. Symptoms only appear when the cancer has spread. However, as the disease progresses, the chance of successful cancer treatment decreases. So you should be aware of the following preventive measures.

Liver cancer prevention: How to reduce your risk

Liver cancer almost always develops as a result of existing cirrhosis — a scarring transformation of liver tissue that can occur as a result of liver damage and hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) over several years. The result of cirrhosis: death of liver cells. As reported by the German Cancer Society, only about 20 percent of all patients with liver cancer had no prior cirrhosis.

The following are often the reasons behind the development of liver cancer:

  • Alcoholic
  • Chronic viral infections (with hepatitis C or hepatitis B viruses)
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (as a result of severe obesity and type 2 diabetes)
  • An unbalanced diet rich in unhealthy fats and sugar

The following high-risk groups should go regularly for liver cancer screening

In particular, people with existing liver diseases such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis should have regular screening tests, as recommended by the German Cancer Society. It is an ultrasound of the liver (ultrasound liver scan), in which the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts are examined.

This article only contains general information on the relevant health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It does not in any way replace a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editors are not permitted to answer individual questions about clinical images.

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