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About hepatocellular carcinoma

What is HCC?

Hepatocellular carcinoma is commonly called HCC and is a primary cancer of hepatocytes. Hepatocytes are the major cell type in the liver.  HCC is sometimes called ‘primary liver cancer’. HCC is very different from ‘secondary liver cancer’.  Secondary liver cancer is one that has started in a different organ, such as the bowel or breast and has then spread to the liver.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually reflect a disruption of normal liver function, either as a result of the cancer damaging the liver cells, or from its location close to or pressing on blood vessels or ducts in the liver.

Symptoms can include abdominal pain or discomfort, weight loss, fatigue and jaundice.

What causes HCC?

Over 80% of HCC cases occur in people who have chronic liver disease or cirrhosis.

Chronic liver injury leads to inflammation and scarring of the liver as part of a healing process. Cirrhosis describes the combination of regenerating nodules of liver cells and a lot of scarring. In a disorganised scarred and injured liver, mistakes in cell repair are more likely to occur. This is how cancers start.

How is HCC diagnosed?

HCC may be discovered on routine scans performed every 6-12 months in people known to have cirrhosis.

Sometimes HCC is discovered incidentally by feeling lumps in the abdomen or on scans organised for another reason.


The HUNTER Expeditor Network is a consortium of 11 Universities from the UK, Spain and Italy funded by an Accelerator Award - a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Fondazione AIRC and Fundación Científica de la Asociacion Española Contra el Cáncer - featuring some of the best academic researchers and clinicians working in HCC and Liver disease. 

Read more about ongoing research projects here:

Art and Poetry

Keep an eye out for upcoming art and poetry workshops.

For now, we encourage you to have a go at our online art and poetry worksheets:

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