Multiple studies suggest that a link exists between occupational asbestos exposure and other cancers besides lung cancer but not as strong because the evidence is only suggestive and insufficient to establish a causal relationship. A significant number of cases have shown a tenuous connection with asbestos as it is a known carcinogen. Liver cancer is more likely to develop in people who have swallowed a significant amount of asbestos. After ingestion, the asbestos fibers pass through the gastrointestinal mucosa and then reach the circulatory system through lymph vessels and finally enter all tissues, where inflammatory process and malignant transformation occurs. Once asbestos fibers reach the bile ducts through the circulatory system, they remain trapped in the smaller bile ducts within the liver and trigger development of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma through chronic inflammation that in turn promotes carcinogenesis.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer and Problems After Asbestos Exposure
Often, the signs and symptoms of liver cancer show up only in the late stages of the disease, but may sometimes develop sooner. Cancer might get diagnosed at an early stage if you consult your doctor when you first notice certain symptoms, and the treatment is more likely to be effective at early stages. Here is a list of common symptoms you need to watch out for:
- Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
- Feeling of fullness in the stomach even after eating a small portion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain or pain near the shoulder blade on the right side
- Fluid build-up or swelling in the abdomen
- Enlarged liver felt as a mass under the ribs on the right side
- Enlarged spleen felt as a mass under the ribs on the left side
- Yellowish discoloration of the eyes and skin
- Itching sensation
- Other symptoms include fever, enlargement of veins on the stomach, abnormal bleeding or bruising
Sometimes, liver cancer produces hormones that can act on other organs. The hormones cause high blood calcium levels, low blood sugar levels, enlargement of breasts and/or shrinkage of testicles in men, high red blood cell counts, and high cholesterol levels. Most signs and symptoms of liver cancer can be caused by other conditions including other liver diseases. If you develop any of these symptoms, it is important to consult your doctor as soon as possible so that the cause can be found and treated.