The liver is the largest organ in the human body and has a multitude of functions including, production of bile to digest fats, producing blood cells, making proteins, turning fat/sugar into protein, storage of excess fat and sugar, help with filtering of blood and removal of waste and toxins that we create biochemically.
The liver can also develop tumours (benign) or cancer as a result of damage to its cells, which if advanced is called liver cirrhosis. Most liver tumours can be treated either with surgery or chemotherapy but sometimes the damage to the liver is so severe that any further treatment is not always possible. Rarely Liver transplant is needed for some conditions of the liver that have caused prolonged and sustained damage to the liver.
A liver tumour seen in women particulary is called a liver cell adenoma, which has a link to the use of the oral contraceptive pill. If discovered, advice is given to stop taking the pill and the adenoma is monitored for any increase in size. Greater than 3-4 cm in diameter then surgical resection is sometimes offered.
The liver can also be affected by cancer spreading from other organs, such as the bowel or stomach and is called secondary liver cancer. This is the commonest form of cancer on the liver seen in the UK and western world. Again treatment relies on the nature of the cancer and the degree of liver involvement and these factors help decide on surgery, chemotherapy as treatment or a combination of both.
MSC has the clinical expertise available to see patients with liver related illnesses and the clinician’s work closely with Hepatologists that are physicians specialising in the treatment of liver diseases.
All patients will undergo liver function blood tests, hepatitis screen and an ultrasound of the liver as baseline investigations for any liver specific disease and further tests are arranged if required.
What is a Fatty Liver?
Fatty liver is a build-up of fat within liver cells and mainly occurs in people who regularly drink alcohol heavily and it can also be seen commonly with diabetes and obesity. Fatty liver does not usually cause symptoms and is usually discovered when liver function blood tests are taken for other reasons, possibly as a screening test. Fatty liver will usually resolve with decreased drinking however, it may be an early sign that someone’s consumption is at potentially harmful levels and so advice is given to reduce alcohol in take.
In cases of severe fatty liver this can lead to liver cirrhosis, which is irreversible.
The recommended alcohol intake is 20 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women where a glass of wine is 2 units as well as a pint of beer.