Liver Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Signs and symptoms of liver cancer

Signs and symptoms of liver cancer often do not show up until the later stages of the disease, but sometimes they may show up sooner. If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed earlier, when treatment is most likely to be helpful. Some of the most common symptoms of liver cancer are:

  • Weight loss (without trying)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling very full after a small meal
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • An enlarged liver, felt as a mass under the ribs on the right side
  • An enlarged spleen, felt as a mass under the ribs on the left side
  • Pain in the abdomen or near the right shoulder blade
  • Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Some other symptoms that can occur include fever, enlarged veins on the belly that become visible through the skin, and abnormal bruising or bleeding.

People who have chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis may feel worse than usual or just have changes in lab test results, such as AFP levels.

Some liver tumors make hormones that act on organs other than the liver. These hormones may cause:

  • High blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea, confusion, constipation, weakness, or muscle problems
  • Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), which can cause fatigue or fainting
  • Breast enlargement (gynecomastia) and/or shrinking of the testicles in men
  • High counts of red blood cells (erythrocytosis) which can cause someone to look red and flushed
  • High cholesterol levels

Many of the signs and symptoms of liver cancer can also be caused by other conditions, including other liver problems. Still, if you have any of these problems, it's important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.


Last Medical Review: 09/25/2013
Last Revised: 02/10/2014