Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

In France, liver cancer is most often the complication of a chronic disease, hepatic cirrhosis . Liver cancer affects approximately 8,000 French people each year, most often men. They are generally diagnosed late, which makes their treatment difficult. Surgery, in particular liver transplantation, is their main treatment, but other types of treatment exist: partial removal of the liver, localized chemotherapy or destruction of the tumor by heat.


Liver cancer is characterized by the development of one or more cancerous nodules in this organ. In the vast majority of cases, these nodules develop in a liver that has been affected for years by a chronic disease that has caused cirrhosis (for example, alcoholism or chronic viral hepatitis ).Liver cancer does not cause symptoms for a long time , which makes it difficult to diagnose early. Patients in whom this cancer is discovered often suffer from advanced forms that are difficult to treat.

Liver cancers should not be confused with liver metastases from other cancers . Unlike “true” liver tumors (also called “primary”), metastases are due to cancer cells born outside the liver (depending on their cancer of origin), which have migrated into the bloodstream to attach then into the liver and form a metastasis . The cells that make up a metastasis retain the characteristics of their organ of origin (breast, lung, ovary, colon, etc.). Therefore , liver metastases are treated like cancer .from which they come.

The liver is a large vital organ located on the right side of the body, below the rib cage. It provides essential functions in our body: transformation and storage of nutrients from the intestines, production of bile essential for the digestion of fats, participation in the maintenance of blood sugar levels, production of proteins necessary for blood coagulation. blood, filtration and transformation of toxic substances to which we may be exposed ( alcohol , drugs, medicines, pollutants, etc.) so that they are then eliminated in the stool or urine.

The liver plays an important role in the storage of sugars (source of energy) and vitamins, which is why fatigue is a common symptom of liver disease.


In about 90% of cases, liver cancers affect the cells that form the bulk of the liver, the hepatocytes. This is then called “ hepatocarcinoma ” or “ hepatocellular carcinoma ”. But there are other , rarer types of liver tumours . Some are benign ( cysts , hemangiomas, adenomas , etc.), others are cancers of the cells that form the walls of blood vessels or bile ducts (through which bile flows).


In France, liver cancer remains relatively rare. In 2011, 8,200 liver cancers were diagnosed. Liver cancers are four times more common in men (80% of cases) and are most often diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 60. The number of liver cancers diagnosed each year is falling significantly, particularly due to the number of people successfully treated for hepatitis C. The recent arrival of new, even more effective treatments against this viral hepatitis will undoubtedly result in a reduction in the frequency of liver cancer in France in the coming years.

Liver cancers are particularly common in Asian and African countries where chronic viral hepatitis ( hepatitis B , hepatitis C) is widespread.

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