Hepatocellular carcinoma (hereinafter referred to as liver cancer) is the seventh most common cancer in Korea. In 2020 alone, 15,152 new liver cancer patients occurred. It is the second highest cancer death rate per 100,000 people. Among economically active men in their 40s and 50s, cancer carries the stigma of having the highest mortality rate.
The liver sends a signal only when it becomes unbearable. No matter how much fat, swelling, or inflammation occurs, it does not give us any warning. If inflammation or ulcers occur in the stomach, you can immediately feel symptoms such as stomach upset and indigestion. However, even if inflammation occurs in the liver, there may be no noticeable symptoms. When the body swells and jaundice occurs, liver function has already lost more than 70%, making treatment difficult.
Hepatitis B causes 60% of liver cancerApproximately 70% of liver cancer cases in Korea are chronic hepatitis. Among them, hepatitis B accounts for 60% and hepatitis C accounts for 10%. 15% have alcoholic liver disease. Not all chronic hepatitis patients develop liver cancer, but the risk of developing liver cancer is much higher than that of healthy people. Avoiding chronic hepatitis is the way to prevent liver cancer.
Newborns must receive the hepatitis B vaccine. Among adults, some may not have developed antibodies even if they were vaccinated as children. If the blood test shows no antibodies, the vaccine must be administered again. Fortunately, the number of people with hepatitis B is gradually decreasing as vaccinations are implemented nationally. On the other hand, the number of hepatitis C carriers is increasing. Hepatitis C is more common in the West than in the East, and is mainly transmitted through blood. Piercings, tattoos, drugs, and injections are the main routes of infection. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, so care must be taken to avoid exposure to the hepatitis virus.
Patients with cirrhosis should be examined every 6 monthsAs cancer treatment technology advances day by day, the cure rate for liver cancer has increased to 38.7% (based on 5-year survival rate), but the treatment results for liver cancer are still lower than those for other cancer types. The reason is that, as mentioned earlier, liver cancer mainly occurs as a result of chronic liver disease. Cancer treatment is often performed when the liver has already deteriorated significantly due to chronic hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis, so the treatment effect is bound to be reduced. Therefore, high-risk groups over the age of 40 who have been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C or liver cirrhosis must undergo a liver ultrasound and blood test (serum alpha-fetoprotein test) every six months through the national cancer screening program . In cases of severe liver cirrhosis or fatty liver, it is difficult to detect liver cancer using ultrasound imaging. At this time, computed tomography ( CT ) or magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) may be performed. You can also take antiviral medication as prescribed by a specialist. Currently, hepatitis C can be completely cured by taking antiviral drugs, so active treatment is recommended. Even patients with hepatitis can lower their risk of developing liver cancer if they undergo regular checkups and have good lifestyle habits.
As the drinking culture spreads socially, the number of patients with cirrhosis and liver cancer caused by alcoholic liver disease is increasing. In particular, frequent drinking in patients with viral hepatitis damages the liver in a short period of time, increasing the risk of developing liver cancer. Quitting drinking and smoking is essential.
Resection if residual liver function is sufficientLike other cancers, early detection is important to expect a complete cure for liver cancer. The 5-year survival rate for liver cancer is 74.0% for stage 1, 59.1% for stage 2, 29.5% for stage 3, and 2.0-9.4% for stage 4 (national cancer registration statistics). As you progress to the 3rd and 4th stages, you can see that the treatment results drop drastically.
Surgical treatments for liver cancer include liver resection and liver transplantation. Among liver cancer patients, liver resection is possible for approximately 30%. This is when the cancer has not progressed and the remaining liver function is sufficient. Recently, laparoscopic liver resection or minimally invasive메이저사이트 liver resection is performed depending on the location of liver cancer, taking patients’ quality of life after surgery into consideration. If liver cancer itself is discovered early, but liver function is poor and surgical resection is difficult, liver transplantation is performed. Even for patients with severe liver cirrhosis, liver transplantation may be the only treatment.
For small liver cancers, local treatment such as radiofrequency therapy ( RFA ) and extracorporeal radiation therapy is performed. Hepatic arterial chemical embolization ( TACE ) is performed on patients who have multiple liver cancers simultaneously or for whom surgical treatment is difficult . This is a treatment that administers anticancer drugs to the hepatic artery (which supplies nutrients and oxygen to liver cancer tissue) and blocks blood flow with embolic substances. If liver cancer has spread outside the liver or has progressed significantly, consider chemotherapy.
Even if liver cancer is completely treated, there is a possibility that cancer may develop again in the remaining diseased liver. After liver cancer treatment, it is important to have regular follow-up observations. Chronic liver disease, which is the cause, must also be well controlled. There are also reports that appropriate antiviral treatment can reduce recurrence.