Liver Cancer: Fast Facts

The liver is a cone-shaped organ located in the upper right area of our abdominal cavity, below our diaphragm and on top of our stomach, intestines, and right kidney. It weighs about three pounds and is dark reddish-brown. It receives oxygenated blood from our hepatic artery and nutrient-rich blood from our hepatic portal vein. At any given time, our liver has about 13 percent of our blood flowing through its two main lobes, each of which contains eight segments with 1,000 small lobules. The liver’s lobules are connected to small ducts which flow into larger ducts and eventually form the common hepatic duct, which moves bile made by the liver to our gallbladder and duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. 

The liver’s main function is to excrete bile and regulate the levels of most substances that circulate in our blood. Bile helps carry waste products out of our liver. All the blood that leaves the intestines and stomach also passes through our liver, which then breaks down or detoxifies any nutrients or drugs it finds into forms that are easier for our body to make use of. Researchers have now found over 500 other essential functions our liver is in charge of. 

Cancer can form in the liver itself or the intrahepatic bile duct. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2019, there will be more than 42,000 new cases of liver or intrahepatic bile cancer diagnosed in Americans and that over 31,000 individuals will die of the disease. Since 1980, the incidence of the disease has more than tripled, with death rates increasing by a little over 2% per year since 2007. There is also a gender disparity in liver cancer: the disease is about three times more common in men than in women.

The Ezra abdominal, torso, and full-body scans screen your liver for cancerous and precancerous states, as well as other conditions such as cysts. If you’d like to do more, you may do so here.