What Causes Angiosarcoma of The Liver?
Angiosarcoma is a type of cancer that occurs in endothelial cells of lymphatic or blood vessels. It is visible in multiple body areas for different patients, including the skin, heart, deep tissues, and liver. In addition, different types of angiosarcomas occur in different parts of the body.
Liver angiosarcoma is liver cancer that begins in the liver’s blood vessels. This type of cancer progresses quickly, so it’s generally diagnosed at a more advanced stage.
Statistics show that this liver-centric tumor accounts for 0.1-2% of all liver ailments. However, it is an aggressive condition. This primary malignant mesenchymal liver tumor is the most commonly visible among adults.
Causes of angiosarcoma in the liver
Approximately 75% of all the types of angiosarcoma show no specific cause. However, certain risk factors may lead to angiosarcomas development, such as radium exposure, vinyl chloride monomer vulnerability, iatrogenic exposure to thorotrast, chronic arsenic ingestion, and androgenic steroid use.
Besides, exposure to urethane, diethylstilbestrol, oral contraceptive, and cyclophosphamide can also pose a risk to this illness. Some studies show that liver angiosarcoma results from certain environmental influences. The latency period for this is reported as 10-40 years.
Angiosarcoma of liver symptoms
There are several symptoms of hepatic angiosarcoma visible among patients. Usually, cutaneous (involving skin) angiosarcoma signs include a lesion or bruise in the skin that does not heal. This is considered one sign of angiosarcoma in most cases if the patient previously had radiation exposure.
Although, symptoms of hepatic angiosarcoma do not appear in front of the naked eye. However, certain signs can show if the cancer cells start to spread. Most of the signs have similarities with other liver ailments, like chronic liver disease.
Since these symptoms are nonspecific, most patients do not take immediate action. This is one of the main reasons for the delayed diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
Common timeframe of patients with hepatic angiosarcoma: Typically, cancer cells affect the liver of adults and the elderly from 60 to 70 years and are very rare among children.
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There are multiple diagnostic tests for detecting angiosarcoma of the liver among patients. They include:
- Physical exam– The first testing is a physical evaluation that can reveal conditions like ascites (fluid collection in the abdomen), jaundice, or hepatomegaly (increase in liver size).
- Radiological imaging is effective for early testing of non-metastatic angiosarcoma.
- Histopathology- This is done to detect angiosarcoma of the liver in the early stages. Here, the liver tissue (obtained surgically or less invasive) is observed under a microscope.
- Imaging tests- For diagnosis testing of angiosarcoma, imaging tests are also preferred. Computed Tomography or CT scans display the extent of cancer. It shows effects like haemorrhage (pooling of blood) or necrosis (irreversible destruction of liver tissue).
- Lab tests include testing for tumor markers or liver function tests.
Oncologists can sometimes confuse the signs of primary liver angiosarcoma with other diseases such as metastatic liver carcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatic hemangioma, and cholangiocarcinoma, which show similar symptoms.
How is angiosarcoma treated?
The most common treatment for primary liver angiosarcoma is surgery. Doctors conduct such procedures to cut out the affected tissues and some of the surrounding healthy tissues. This reduces the potential for cancer to return.
Plus, the doctors need to remove the affected tumor region with clear margins during the surgery. However, this treatment is ineffective if cancer has spread to the entire liver.
Besides surgery, other alternative treatment plans for liver angiosarcoma include chemotherapy, palliative therapy (trans-arterial chemoembolization), immunotherapy and radiation therapy.
Liver transplantation and other molecular treatment have the least effect for this cancer type among the different therapy plans. Plus, the rate of reoccurrence is high among angiosarcoma patients.
The survival rate of liver-based angiosarcoma
Unfortunately, the survival rate of angiosarcoma is not high for both cutaneous angiosarcoma and non-metastatic angiosarcoma. Due to delayed diagnosis, the average 5-year survival rate for this condition is approximately 35%.
Liver angiosarcoma may show symptoms in the advanced stage, due to which the diagnosis happens late. This is the main reason for the low survival rate in these patients. Since the exact cause of this type of non-metastatic liver angiosarcoma is unknown, its early diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment.
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