Liver nodules can be a very serious condition due to this organ’s vital function in the body. The liver stores blood and filters the toxins from the blood; it is also responsible for the production of bile and metabolism. When you have nodules on the liver it can be indicative of liver cancer.
You can get benign tumors on the liver, as well as liver nodules that are not cancer. The problem is that these nodules can still grow large enough to cause health problems so surgery is usually the best option, even if the nodules or tumors turn out to be non cancerous. If the nodules are benign, surgery will cure the condition.
The difference between liver nodules that are benign and those that are malignant is that that malignant nodules will continue to replicate and grow in the liver, even if you have the original nodules removed. The cancer cells will also spread to other vital organs as well.
The liver consists of a lot of different cells, and this is the reason why there are so many types of malignant liver tumors, as well as liver nodules. The tumors and nodules can have completely different causes and are often treated with different methods too. In addition to how the tumors and nodules are treated, the exact cause of the condition will also determine the prognosis too.
The most common types of malignant tumors or liver nodules are known as Hepatocellular carcinoma. This is a form of liver cancer that can start out as a single tumor, or several smaller nodules. The cells responsible for this cancer are the main cells that makeup the liver. If this type of cancer is not found early, the nodules will cause much more damage to the liver than early stages where the cancer is found as a tumor. The reason that the liver nodules are worse than tumors is that they are often widespread throughout the liver.
Malignant liver nodules may also be the result of a secondary cancer; this means that the source of the cancer is somewhere else in the body, such as the lungs, colon, or breasts. The cancer spreads to the liver from one of these areas so treatment will be different. In a case of secondary liver cancer, the source of the cancer cells must be treated in addition to the malignant cells in the liver.
Liver nodules are more common in women than men, but recent studies indicate that the rate for both malignant and benign nodules in the liver is increasing, especially in developed countries. One reason for this could be the increase in people being infected with hepatitis B and C, but there are other factors that can increase the risk of developing liver cancer, such as liver disease caused by alcoholism, as well as birth control pills.
Depending on the size of the tumor or nodules, there may be no symptoms at all. If there are symptoms they could include stomach pain, bloating, or pain in the shoulder blades. If you have any of the symptoms that may indicate liver problems you will want to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If there are liver nodules or a tumor present, it is best to catch the condition sooner and not later.
In most cases these nodules are found by accident through an ultrasound performed for another reason, but you don’t have to wait for an accidental find; if you have symptoms ask your doctor about the possibility of liver nodules.
Copyright © 2006 Liver Facts.