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Liver cancer is a silent tumour that only causes symptoms when it is in an advanced stage and will probably no longer respond to treatments with a curative intent. Therefore, patients at risk of developing liver cancer should be enrolled in early diagnosis screening programmes based around a six-monthly abdominal ultrasound.
Tiredness. Tiredness is a typical symptom in patients with chronic liver disease, consequently a sudden worsening of this symptom is cause to suspect the presence of a liver tumour.
Increase in abdominal girth. Liver cancer can be associated with abdominal fluid retention (called ascites) that manifests as an increase in abdominal circumference.
Jaundice. In advanced stages, patients often develop a yellow discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes.
Abdominal pain. Only the liver’s surrounding capsule has sensitive nerve endings, which means that as long as tumour growth is limited to inside the liver, it rarely causes any pain. However, when it penetrates outside the capsule or the abnormal growth causes distension, patients will generally notice a constant, low-intensity abdominal pain.
Loss of appetite and weight loss. These symptoms are indicative of an advanced tumour.