By Gwen Spector, Complex GI Nurse Navigator at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Medical City Healthcare
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that liver cancer increases approximately 2.3% per year and the death rate grows rapidly at 3% per year. The cause of this increase is credited mostly to the serge of Hepatitis C cases, in Baby Boomers especially. Other risk factors include Hepatitis B and fatty liver diseases from alcohol and obesity. The increase in childhood obesity nationwide may result in people developing liver cancer at younger ages.
On World Digestive Health Day it is important to educate yourself on risk factors for liver cancer, especially hepatitis.
Know the Signs
Signs and symptoms of liver disease include:
- Jaundice, yellowing of your skin and eyes
- Itchy skin without a rash
- Swollen belly
- Right sided belly pain
- Pale or clay colored stools
- Dark urine
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bleeding and bruising easily
Sometimes there are no signs present. That’s why it’s important for you to know your risk factors and see your doctor routinely for a physical exam and blood work
Ways to Keep Your Liver Healthy
Many causes of liver disease are related to preventable lifestyle habits. Make changes to improve your liver wellness and reduce your risk of liver cancer and other liver diseases. Be kind to your liver by not making it work any harder than necessary.
- Limit your alcohol consumption to the recommended amount and frequency.
- Eat a well-balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables and good fats and low in processed, saturated fats and sugary foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- If you’re diabetic, closely monitor and control your blood sugar.
- Always read medication labels for directions and ingredients. Prescription and non-prescription medications should be taken as directed by your provider or as listed on the label. Never take two medications with Acetaminophen at the same time.
- Wash your hands before you cook and eat and after going to the bathroom.
- Practice safe sex.
- Don’t share needles, razors, or toothbrushes. Be cautious of where you go to get tattoos and body piercings.
- See your doctor routinely and follow recommendations for immunizations and testing. You should get tested for Hepatitis C if you are over 50, regardless of risk factors.