What are possible causes of liver cancer?

In response to a question on healthshare.com.au

Liver cancers can be primary liver cancers that arise in the liver, or secondary (metastatic) cancers that spread form a primary cancer elsewhere in the body.

The commonest primary liver cancer is a hepatocellular carcinoma, also called an HCC or sometimes a hepatoma. The commonest causes of hepatocellular carcinoma in adults are:

  • Cirrhosis - a condition where scarring and regeneration and inflammation of the liver result in permanent liver damage.
  • Viral hepatitis - hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • Alcohol
  • Haemochromatosis and other “storage disorders” that affect the liver. Haemochromatosis is due to an excess of iron.
  • Fatty liver disease associated with obesity and / or diabetes
  • Toxins of various types, from agricultural (aflatoxin) or chemical exposure

Most patients with cirrhosis or with chronic (long-term) viral hepatitis require life-long screening with ultrasound tests and blood tests every six months.

Hepatocellular carcinoma can also occur with none of the above risk factors.