Liver cancer screening systems

If some symptoms of liver cancer are present, there are different kinds of tests that have to be done to rule out if the the person has been affected by liver cancer. The different kinds of tests conducted to rule out liver cancer are:

Picture of a doctor examining a patient for liver cancer

Computed tomography (CT) scan

A CT scan creates a three-dimensional picture of inside the body using X-rays that are taken from different angles. A special kind of dye is also used to make the image clearer. The dye is injected into the patient’s veins and also given as a liquid to swallow. However, even in a CT scan, tumors that are very small are difficult to recognize.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

The MRI scan unlike the X-ray uses magnetic waves to give a detailed image of the internal parts of the patient’s body. The MRI is also known to detect the tumor size and a dye called a contrast medium is injected into the patient’s veins to give a more detailed view.

Angiography/CT Angiography

An angiogram is an X-ray test that looks at blood vessels. In this test a contrast medium or dye is used to outline the arteries. While the dye or contrast medium is injected into the arteries, X-ray images are taken. In the angiography, the arteries that supply blood to the liver cancer can be identified. This helps the doctor to understand vascular anatomy and helps in surgical removal of tumor. In this procedure a catheter is used and the catheter is placed into an artery in the groin and threaded up to the liver. A local anesthetic is often used to numb the area before the catheter is inserted. An angiography can also be done by using a CT scanner or a MRI scanner. These techniques are often used instead of X-ray because it can give detailed information about blood vessels and arteries.

Bone scan

A bone scan is usually done to check if the cancer has spread to the bones.

Laparoscopy

This procedure is used in liver cancer to help doctors diagnose the extent of the cancer and stage of the cancer. In the procedure of a laparoscopy a small tube that has a camera at one end is used. This tube is placed into the abdomen through a small incision and it helps the doctor look at the liver and other organs.

Biopsy

A biopsy is sometimes the only way to be certain if cancer is present. A biopsy is a procedure where in a sample tissue is removed and is looked at under a microscope to see if it is cancerous. Biopsies can be done through different methods like. Needle biopsy, laparoscopic biopsy and surgical biopsy.

Blood tests

There are numerous blood tests that are done to determine if the person has liver cancer but the most important of them all is the Alpha-fetoprotein blood test (AFP). The levels of alpha-fetoprotein is usually seen to be high in the blood of fetuses but it comes down after birth. The level of AFP is high in adults who have liver disease or cancer. If the levels of AFP are seen to be very high in adults who already have a liver tumor, it can be a sign that cancer is present. However, this test cannot be fully relied on as in the early stages of liver cancer, the levels of AFP maybe normal.

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