According to the journal Cancer Research, Type 2 diabetes and other problems associated with the condition, likely raise the risk of developing liver cancer. In October 2016 scientists at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta and several other research facilities in the United States and the United Kingdom, reported the results of their study linking Type 2 diabetes to liver cancer.

The rate of liver cancer in the United States is three times what it was in 1975. Obesity and Type 2 diabetes have followed the same trend. Could there be a connection? Scientists looked at 2,162 cases of liver cancer …

  • overweight and obese men and women had higher rates of liver cancer.
  • people who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes were found to be more than twice as likely to develop cancer of the liver. A higher waist size also increased the risk.

In the United States, about 39,000 people are diagnosed with cancer arising from the liver and about 27,000 people die from liver cancer each year.

Signs and symptoms of liver cancer include …

  • loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss,
  • pain in the upper abdomen, especially under the right ribs,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • tiredness,
  • abdominal swelling,
  • jaundice, or yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, and
  • pale chalk-like stools.

When possible the best treatment is surgery. In some cases, part of the liver is removed, or the entire organ can be replaced with a transplanted liver. In 2012 in the United States there were about 1300 organ transplants for cancer in the liver.

When surgery is not an option …

  1. radiation,
  2. chemotherapy,
  3. embolization, and
  4. ablation

are options.

1. Radiation can be aimed at the liver from outside the body, or small radioactive beads can be injected into the hepatic (having to do with the liver) artery. They will lodge near tumors and give off radiation only to the tumors.

2. Chemotherapy has not been satisfactory so far. A new method of injecting the healing chemicals directly into the hepatic artery is under investigation.

3. Another new form of therapy is embolization. A catheter is inserted into the hepatic artery, and small particles are released, blocking off the artery and cutting off the blood supply to the tumor.

4. Ablation therapy attacks the tumor while avoiding healthy tissue. A thin probe may be inserted to freeze the tumor. Or a needle can pierce the tumor to deliver alcohol to kill the cancer cells. High-frequency radiation or microwaves can also be sent through a small probe to attack the tumor.