Two symptoms of liver cancer that could be mistaken for indigestion

Liver cancer: Expert discusses symptoms and treatments

Liver cancer is the 18th most common type of cancer in the UK.

However, it is the eighth most common cause of cancer death in the region, accounting for almost 6,000 fatalities a year.

As with any disease, the earlier you spot the symptoms the earlier you can seek help.

But in the case of this disease, the symptoms might not appear until the later stages making it especially deadly.

For this reason it is important to be aware of any of the potential warning signs.

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According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “sometimes” the symptoms can appear sooner.

“Signs and symptoms of liver cancer often do not show up until the later stages of the disease, but sometimes they may show up sooner,” it says.

“If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed earlier, when treatment is most likely to be helpful.”

However, the signs of liver cancer could be mistaken for something else.

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The ACS lists two symptoms of liver cancer as:

  • Feeling very full after a small meal
  • Nausea or vomiting.

These are also indicators of indigestion, with the NHS referring to feeling full and bloated and feeling sick as common signs.

Indigestion is discomfort felt after eating. It can also result in pain in the abdomen – another sign of liver cancer.

The ACS actually warns that “many” of the symptoms of liver cancer are associated with other health issues.

“In fact, many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions,” it adds.

“Still, if you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.”

It lists the other “most common” symptoms of liver cancer as:

  • Weight loss (without trying)
  • Loss of appetite
  • An enlarged liver, felt as fullness under the ribs on the right side
  • An enlarged spleen, felt as fullness under the ribs on the left side
  • Pain in the abdomen (belly) or near the right shoulder blade
  • Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen (belly)
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

If you experience any of these symptoms you should speak to your doctor.

Signs of indigestion, however, could also be accompanied by:

  • Heartburn – a painful burning feeling in the chest, often after eating
  • Burping and farting
  • Bringing up food or bitter-tasting fluids into your mouth.

If liver cancer develops it can affect hormones in the body resulting in the following symptoms:

  • High blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea, confusion, constipation, weakness, or muscle problems
  • Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia), which can cause fatigue or fainting
  • Breast enlargement (gynecomastia) and/or shrinkage of the testicles in men
  • High counts of red blood cells (erythrocytosis) which can cause someone to look red and flushed
  • High cholesterol levels.

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