When liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma is present, the liver will function normally with only a small portion of it in working order.
Liver cancer can be a primary cancer (starts in the liver) or a secondary cancer (starts in another part of the body and spreads to the liver).
Types of Liver Cancers
Primary liver cancer is one of the less common cancers. It is more common in men and people aged over 60 years. Most primary liver cancers are called hepatocellular carcinoma, as they start in liver cells called hepatocytes. Others start in a bile duct and are called cholangiocarcinoma.
In the western world, most people who develop primary liver cancer also have cirrhosis of the liver. This is scarring of the liver which is due to a variety of causes including heavy alcohol drinking over a long period of time. However, only a small proportion of people who have cirrhosis of the liver develop primary liver cancer. Infection with Hepatitis B, C or D can also increase the risk of developing cirrhosis and, later, primary liver cancer.