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Patient's Guide to Liver Cancer

How Liver Cancer Develops

How Liver Cancer Develops

A healthy liver is made up of cells. Normally, these cells maintain specialized functions as they grow and divide. Eventually these cells become old and die. The body replaces them with new, healthy cells. A balance maintained between cell birth and cell death. Cells that are part of a bigger structure--like the liver--can communicate and influence each other.

Healthy Liver

In patients with cirrhosis, healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. Cirrhosis is most often due to inflammation within the liver. This scar tissue disrupts the normal organization and function of the liver. Cirrhosis, in some individuals, can be a cause of liver cancer.

Cirrhosis

Liver cancer develops when the organized control of cell growth and death is disrupted. Either new cells form when the body does not need them or old cells do not die when they should. Cancer cells are damaged. Uncontrolled cancer cells can invade and damage surrounding tissue and form "masses" or "tumors".

Cancer cells in liver

Liver tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are masses of tissue but they are not cancer. They are usually not harmful and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are considered cancers. Malignant tumors of liver tissue localized in the liver, or metastatic to other organs, can be life threatening.

liver tumor

More commonly, cancers may metastasize, or spread, to the liver from other organs. Secondary liver cancers may develop in tissues distant from the liver. Cancer cells from the breast, lung, colon and pancreas can reach be carried to the liver by the blood or lymph systems. Some cancers will "invade" the liver by direct extension from adjacent organs (gallbladder, stomach).

 

 

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For Liver, Pancreas and Bile Duct Surgery, please call (323) 442-7172. For Organ Transplant Information, please call (323) 442-5908

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USC Hepatobiliary, Pancreas and
Abdominal Organ Transplant

1450 San Pablo Street
Healthcare Consultation Center 4
Suite 6200
Los Angeles, CA 90089

For Liver, Pancreas & Bile Duct Surgery,
please call (323) 442-7172
Fax: (323) 442-7173

For Organ Transplant Information,
please call (323) 442-5908

Fax: (323) 442-5721

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