It's not clear what causes most cases of liver cancer. But in some cases, the cause is known. For instance, chronic infection with certain hepatitis viruses can cause liver cancer.
Liver cancer occurs when liver cells develop changes (mutations) in their DNA — the material that provides instructions for every chemical process in your body. DNA mutations cause changes in these instructions. One result is that cells may begin to grow out of control and eventually form a tumor — a mass of cancerous cells.
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- Management of hepatocellular carcinoma: An update. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- What you need to know about liver cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/liver. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Cirrhosis. National Institute for Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis/. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Hepatobiliary cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Hepatitis B FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/B/bFAQ.htm. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Hepatitis C FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/C/cFAQ.htm. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Taking time: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime. Accessed May 21, 2013.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 26, 2013.
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