The liver, the largest gland in the body, plays a vital role in keeping us alive. Its many functions include storing vitamins and nutrients, producing proteins used for blood clotting, and creating bile used for digestion. It also breaks down and filters out toxins from the blood.
Two types of cancer affect the liver:
- Primary cancer first begins in the liver and may spread to other organs. The most common primary cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma.
- Metastasized cancer of the liver comes originally from another part of the body. Cancer cells can easily travel from another affected organ to the liver because of the role the liver plays in filtering the blood. Some of the most common cancers that spread to the liver are from the colon, pancreas, stomach, lung, and breast.
The average person diagnosed with liver cancer is over 60 years old. In Canada, about 2,200 people are diagnosed every year with liver cancer, and more men than women are affected.