Signs and Symptoms

In the early stages of the disease, primary liver cancer may be asymptomatic because the liver can function normally even with a large tumour growing on it. It is only when the function of the liver is impaired (such as a blockage of a bile duct) that symptoms may appear, including:

  • Weight loss.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • A lump or mass in the upper abdomen under the ribs.
  • Feeling full after a small meal.
  • Enlarged liver.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Pain in the abdomen or near the right shoulder blade.
  • Ascites or building-up of fluid in the abdomen.
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.

Other symptoms related to liver cancer are also common in chronic liver disease, when the liver does not work properly and there is a build-up of toxins. This might result in hepatic encephalopathy, which is neuropsychiatric abnormalities in patients with liver dysfunction that can generate confusion, forgetfulness, mood changes, slurred speech and/or shaking of the hands and feet.