Cancer that originates in the cells of the liver is called liver cancer. Liver cancer can be broadly categorised into two types – primary liver cancer and secondary liver cancer. Primary liver cancer occurs in the liver cells and is mainly caused by hepatitis and other viruses and liver cirrhosis. Secondary liver cancer or metastatic liver cancer develops when cancer cells from different organs spread to the liver.
Liver cancer can be further categorised depending on the cells that have become cancerous. Among all the types of liver cancer, Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common. Due to its commonality, most of the information about liver cancer is regarding this type. But, there are other, less common types of liver cancer, says Dr Purnendu Bhowmik, the best liver cancer doctor in Kolkata, which everyone should learn about and understand. The rare types of liver cancer are listed and explained below.
Cholangiocarcinoma, commonly known as bile duct cancer, is a group of rare cancer that begins in the bile ducts. Bile ducts are a vast network of small tubes that transport bile from the liver to the gallbladder or small intestine. Bile ducts within the liver group together to form the left and right major bile ducts that leads out of the liver to meet the common bile duct.
Cholangiocarcinoma can be divided into three main types, depending on where cancer forms in the biliary system:
- Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma – It is the least common form of bile duct cancer that occurs in the small bile ducts within the liver.
- Klatskin tumour or Hilar Cholangiocarcinoma – It is the most common form of bile duct cancer that occurs at the meeting site of the right and left bile ducts and the common bile duct.
- Extrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma – It occurs in bile ducts outside the liver.
Risk factors of developing Cholangiocarcinoma are –
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Exposure to certain toxins (Dioxins, nitrosamines, and polychlorinated biphenyls) and parasitic infections (Opisthorchis Viverrini & Clonorchis Sinensis)
- Chronic and persistent inflammation of the bile ducts.
Fibrolamellar carcinoma is rare type of liver cancer that occurs in teens and adults under the age of 40. Contrary to other types of liver cancers, people who have a healthy liver can develop this cancer.
Hepatoblastoma is one of the rare types of liver cancer that mainly affects children from infancy until around age 5. Usually, kids are diagnosed with this disease during the first 18 months of their life.
The exact cause of this cancer is unknown. However, children who were born prematurely, have a very low birth weight or have certain genetic conditions (Trisomy 18, germline APC gene mutations, hemihypertrophy syndromes) have a high risk for developing hepatoblastoma.
Liver Angiosarcoma is an aggressive form of liver cancer that occurs in the cells of the blood or lymph vessels. It is a rare type of cancer. This type of cancer typically occurs in men in their sixties or seventies. It is the 3rd most common type of primary liver cancer.
Consult a Doctor
If you notice the following symptoms, consult Dr Purnendu Bhowmik.
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Weakness and Fatigue
- White, Chalky Stools
Liver cancer diagnosis at an early stage can significantly improve the outcome of a person’s liver cancer treatment in Kolkata.