Munson Health
Liver Cancer

Back to Document

by LaRusso L

(Malignant Hepatoma; Hepatocellular Carcinoma; Primary Liver Cancer)


Risk Factors

Factors that may increase you chance of liver cancer include:
  • Sex: male
  • Age: 40 and older
  • Infection with the hepatitis B virus or the hepatitis C virus
  • Formation of scar tissue in the liver, also known as cirrhosis
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to an infectious agent, such as a liver fluke, which are found in southern Pacific countries
  • Hemochromatosis —abnormal collection of iron in body tissues
  • Hereditary metabolic disorders such as alpha-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency and tyrosinemia
  • Exposure to certain chemicals:
    • Aflatoxin—a substance made by a fungus that often infects wheat, peanuts, soybeans, corn, and rice in tropical and subtropical regions
    • Vinyl chloride and thorium dioxide—chemicals that are strictly controlled
    • Anabolic steroids—male hormones sometimes given for medical reasons, but also taken by athletes to increase strength
    • Arsenic —a toxic chemical
Liver Cancer Due to Cirrhosis
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


If liver cancer is found, staging tests are done. This will help find out if the cancer has spread and, if so, to what extent. Surgery is the only procedure used to try to cure liver cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can reduce symptoms associated with the cancer. They are not considered able to cure liver cancer by themselves.


American Cancer Society

American Liver Foundation



BC Cancer Agency

Canadian Cancer Society



Liver cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed April 29, 2013.

Liver cancer. National Cancer Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: Accessed April 29, 2013.

Salem, R, Lewandowski, RJ, Mulcahy, MF, et al. Radioembolization for hepatocellular carcinoma using Yttrium-90 microspheres: a comprehensive report of long-term outcomes. Gastroenterology. 2010;138:52.

SHARP: study of heart and renal protection. Clinical Trials.gove website. Available at: Updated January 31, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2013.

3/19/2010 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance : Saunders D, Seidel D, Allison M, Lyratzopoulos G. Systematic review: the association between obesity and hepatocellular carcinoma—epidemiologic evidence. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Feb 18.

3/17/2014 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance Luo J, Yang Y, et al. Systematic review with meta-analysis: meat consumption and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Mar 3.


Revision Information