Cancer Home > Liver Cancer Symptoms

In early stages of liver cancer, symptoms of the disease usually do not occur. However, as the tumor grows, symptoms may develop. When symptoms occur, they commonly include such things as jaundice, bloating, weight loss, and pain in the upper abdomen on the right side. Pain is not normally an early symptom of liver cancer -- people should not wait to experience pain before seeing a doctor.

An Introduction to Liver Cancer Symptoms

Liver cancer usually develops over time. Most primary liver cancers begin in hepatocytes (liver cells). As liver cancer cells start to continue to grow, they spread more deeply into the liver and to surrounding areas. When liver cancer spreads (metastasizes) outside the liver, the cancer cells tend to spread to nearby lymph nodes and to the bones and lungs. When this happens, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells as the primary tumor in the liver.

Early Symptoms of Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is sometimes called a "silent disease" because usually there are no early liver cancer symptoms. Pain is not normally an early symptom -- it is usually an indication that the disease may be well established. Therefore, it is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.

Common Symptoms of Liver Cancer

As the cancer grows, liver cancer symptoms may occur. Common symptoms seen as the liver cancer grows may include:
  • Pain in the upper abdomen on the right side; the pain may extend to the back and shoulder
  • Swollen abdomen (bloating)
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite; experiencing feelings of fullness
  • Weakness or feeling very tired
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellow skin and eyes, and dark urine from jaundice
  • Fever.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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