Five common liver cancer myths
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In honour of World Cancer Day on the 4th of February, Hepatitis Queensland is busting five common liver cancer myths. 1,827 Queenslanders died from liver cancer in 2018, the 7th most common cause of cancer death.
Myth 1 – You can’t do anything to change your chance of developing liver cancer
Truth 1 – Up to 70% of liver cancer is preventable, and there are simple things we can all do to protect our liver:
- Eat a healthy diet with lots of whole foods, exercise regularly and limit alcohol intake.
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis B. Vaccination is even free for some groups of people.
- Ask your GP for a liver health check and hepatitis test.
Myth 2 – Liver cancer is always caused by alcohol
Truth 2 – Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing liver cancer, but the most common cause of liver cancer in Australia is infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is also an increasingly common cause of liver cancer.
Truth 3 – There are many treatments available for liver cancer. Early detection of liver cancer gives you the best chance of cure.
Myth 4 – Liver cancer has obvious symptoms
Truth 4 – Most people with early liver cancer don’t have any symptoms or they may be mild. Symptoms may include:
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Tiredness and fatigue
Myth 5 – Liver cancer is difficult to treat
Truth 5 – Early detection of liver cancer gives you the most treatment options. Treatments for liver cancer can include surgery (including transplant), chemotherapy, tumour ablation (killing targeted parts of the liver), radiation or biological therapy.
Liver cancer monitoring
Early liver cancer may not have any symptoms. If you have risk factors for liver cancer your doctor may recommend regular monitoring. This will be an ultrasound and a blood test every six months. Visit our health services directory to find a liver clinic close to you.
The Cancer Council has an Understanding Cancer in the Liver guide for people affected by primary liver cancer or secondary cancer in the liver.
If you have any questions about your liver health or liver cancer prevention, call the Hepatitis Queensland Infoline on 1800 437 222.