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What Causes Liver Cancer?

Cancer develops when healthy liver cells become abnormal and grow too quickly. The abnormal cells form a mass called a tumor. When a tumor has the ability to spread to other parts of the body, it is called malignant. Another word for a malignant tumor is cancer. The exact cause of liver cancer is not known. Risk factors for primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) include:
  • Viral hepatitis B and C
  • Alcohol
  • Cirrhosis
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Intake of anabolic steroids
  • Non-alcoholic cirrhosis (fatty liver)
In many patients, liver tumors result from the spread (metastasis) of another cancer to the liver through the bloodstream. This spread of metastatic disease represents the most common form of cancer in the liver in the United States. Most commonly, cancer occurring in the colon, rectum, breast, or kidney may spread to the liver.