Liver cancer can lead to several complications and diseases. The tumour can put pressure on nearby organs. Cancer cells can cause changes in hormones. Liver dysfunction can cause toxin build-up. Here are some of the complications and related disease of liver cancer:
Bile duct obstruction
The liver produces the bile, a fluid essential in the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. The bile is transported to the small intestine through ducts. In liver cancer, tumours that developed within these ducts can cause obstruction. An obstructed duct causes symptoms like persistent and severe pain in the right upper abdomen, itching, nausea, vomiting, and jaundice.
With liver cancer, the liver does not produce enough proteins that help in blood clotting. Without the right amount of these blood-clotting proteins, you may have bleeding problems, which can also lead to anaemia.
Liver cancer can create a blockage in the blood flow through the liver. This blockage can lead to portal hypertension, an increase in pressure within the portal vein that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver. Symptoms and complications of portal hypertension include gastrointestinal bleeding, encephalopathy or confusion, reduced levels of platelets, and decreased white blood cell count.
Liver cancer can cause hormone problems that hinder the function of other organs, causing high calcium level in the blood or hypercalcaemia. Some of the common symptoms of hypercalcaemia are nausea and vomiting, extreme muscle weakness, and confusion, which can progress to coma and even death if not treated.
When liver disease leads to kidney disease, it results to a condition called hepatorenal syndrome. It is caused by changes in blood vessels and reduced blood flow to the kidneys. Hepatorenal syndrome is a common complication of liver cancer and liver diseases.
Liver cancer can lead to hepatic encephalopathy, a decline in brain function due to severe liver disease. When the liver can no longer sufficiently eliminate toxins from the blood, toxins can build up in the bloodstream and result to brain damage. Symptoms include disorientation, memory loss, severe confusion, and personality changes.