The liver is the largest organ in the body. It is an extremely important organ with many functions. The exact cause of liver cancer remains unknown; however, some factors may slightly increase a person’s risk of developing primary liver cancer.


This is the scarring throughout the liver which can happen through a variety of different causes e.g. drinking lots of alcohol over a long period.


 Hepatitis b or hepatitis c can lead to liver cancer and can cause cirrhosis.

Inherited medical conditions

Primary liver cancer is not caused by an inherited faulty gene, therefore it cannot be passed on from one relative to another. People who take anabolic steroids over a long period of time have a slightly increased rick of developing primary liver cancer.


The early stage of primary liver cancer may have no or vague symptoms. However, once they occur they can consist of:

  • Jaundice - this occurs when the liver isn't working properly. it makes the skin and the whites of the eye go yellow and may make the skin very itchy. Other signs of jaundice are dark coloured urine and pale stools;
  • Ascites - fluid built up in the liver that causes swelling;
  • Pain - discomfort in the upper abdomen which may become painful. This is due to the enlargement of the liver and can be sometimes felt in the right shoulder;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Weight loss;
  • Feeling sick;
  • Weakness and tiredness (lethargy);

The type of treatment is dependent on the type of liver cancer you have, the size of cancer and also the state of the individual’s general health. Main treatments are surgery and chemotherapy.