Liver Cancer

Risk Factors

  • Gender – More common in men.
  • Race/Ethnicity – In the United States, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of liver cancer, followed by American Indians/Alaska Natives and Hispanics/Latinos, African Americans, and whites.
  • Chronic Viral Hepatitis – Worldwide, the most common risk factor for liver cancer is chronic (long-term) infection with hepatitus B virus (HBV) or hepatitus C virus (HCV).
  • Heavy Alcohol Use
  • Cirrhosis – Disease in which liver cells become damaged and are replaced by scar tissue.
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Inherited Metabolic Diseases – Hemochromatosis, Tyrosinemia, Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, Porphyria cutanea tarda, Glycogen storage diseases, and Wilson disease.
  • Aflatoxins – These cancer-causing substances are made by a fungus that contaminates peanuts, wheat, soybeans, ground nuts, corn, and rice.
  • Anabollic Steroids
  • Arsenic

Warning Signs & Symptoms

  • Weight loss (without trying)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling very full after a small meal
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • 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
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Enlarged veins on the belly that become visible through the skin
  • Worsening of your condition if you have chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis


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 symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed. If it is cancer, ignoring symptoms may allow it to progress to a more advanced stage and lower your chance for effective treatment.

Early Detection Saves Lives!

This information was provided by the American Cancer Society. © 2013 American Cancer Society, Inc. All rights reserved. The American Cancer Society is a qualified 501[c][3] tax-exempt organization.