Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary liver cancer. In Australia, the rate of HCC is increasing faster than any other cancer. HCC is caused most commonly by cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a state where the liver has been damaged over such a long period of time that it becomes replaced with extensive scar tissue. Many exposures cause cirrhosis, the most common including chronic hepatitis B or C infection, heavy alcohol use and fatty liver disease.
There are often no symptoms and many people do not know that they have liver cancer until late in the disease and the treatment options are limited. Some symptoms may include:
- jaundice (yellowing of eyes)
- weight loss
- abdominal discomfort
For people at risk of getting HCC, screening is done every 6 months with a blood test to look for a marker of the cancer and an ultrasound of your liver whereby the surface can be looked at for any changes in structure. People at risk include:
- any person with cirrhosis of any cause
- any person with hepatitis B and:
- Asian male > 40 years old
- Asian female > 50 years old
- African > 20 years old
- family history of HCC
There are a number of different ways to treat HCC, your specialist will discuss with you the most appropriate treatment in your case. This depends on how early the cancer is detected and how sick the underlying liver tissue is. Most important in the process is the involvement of a multidisciplinary team of hepatologists, interventional radiologists, oncologists, surgeons and nurses. Our specialists have direct access to one of the most comprehensive liver multidisciplinary teams at Westmead Hospital.
For further information, click on the link below where Dr Vongsuvanh and other specialists talk about HCC for the NSW Cancer Council.
- Latest advice on HCC screening and disease monitoring
- Presentation of all patients with HCC at Westmead Multidisciplinary Team meeting with management guided by the expert opinion of multiple hepatologists, interventional radiologists, oncologists, surgeons and nurses.
- Evidenced based treatment of HCC with Microwave ablation, Sirtex, Radiofrequency ablation, surgery or oral chemotherapy as required.
- All patients linked in with a specialist HCC nurse at Westmead Hospital