Symptoms of liver cancer

Last medical review:

Liver cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Signs and symptoms often appear as the tumour grows and causes changes in the body, such as blocking the bile ducts. Other health conditions, including scarring of the liver (called cirrhosis), can cause the same symptoms as liver cancer.

See your doctor if you have these signs or symptoms:

  • pain in the upper-right abdomen, which may move up through the right shoulder
  • a lump on the right side below the ribs
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling full after a small meal
  • unexplained weight loss
  • swelling of the abdomen caused by a buildup of fluid (called ascites)
  • swelling in the legs and feet caused by a buildup of fluid (called edema)
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • itching
  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (called jaundice)
  • confusion, personality or mood changes, and shaking or problems controlling hands and arms (called hepatic encephalopathy) caused by cirrhosis

Expert review and references

  • Kelly W Burak, MD, FRCPC, MSc(Epid)
  • Vincent Tam, BSc(Hon), MD, FRCPC
  • American Cancer Society . Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer . 2019 :
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) . Liver Cancer: Symptoms and Signs . 2021 :
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Hepatobiliary Cancers (Version 3.2021). 2021.
  • PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board . Adult Primary Liver Cancer Treatment (PDQ­®) – Health Professional Version . Bethesda, MD : National Cancer Institute ; 2019 :

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