Primary cancerous liver tumors can originate in either the hepatocyes or in bile duct cells. Primary malignant liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma most commonly occurs in patients with cirrhosis from viral infection, alcoholism, hemochromatosis, or alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency.
Men are affected more than women and the prognosis is very poor, with a dismal, average survival rate of about six months after the first symptoms appear. Presenting symptoms include right upper quadrant pain, weight loss and weakness, an enlarged and tender liver and a bruit, or friction rub, over the liver.
Metastasis is generally to the regional lymph nodes, lungs, and peritoneum. Metastases to the liver from primary tumors in other areas of the body are much more common than primary liver cancer. Secondary metastases often spread from primary tumors in the lungs, breasts, gastrointestinal tract, thyroid, prostate, or from malignant melanoma lesions affecting the skin.
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