Like many of the cancers on our list, liver cancer is such a silent killer because it does not cause the patient to exhibit any symptoms until late stages. This makes it extremely hard to detect, even if you are getting a physical exam, despite the cancer being in an early stage!
If the tumor is really small (like it is in the initial phases), it will be very hard to detect due to the fact that most of the liver is covered by the right part of the ribcage.
This makes it so that by the time the liver has become big enough that it causes concern to your doctor, the tumor is likely to have spread all through the organ, and at this point, it would be impossible to remove it through surgery.
The reason why getting surgery when the tumor is too big is that if it were too big and spread out, there would be almost no liver left after the surgery. With how long the list of liver transplants is, this wouldn’t be a viable option either.
Unfortunately, there is no widely used or recommended screening for liver cancer, so the chances of catching the disease in its early stage are quite slim if you are not thought to be at risk of developing it.
Generally, people with a history of the disease or those who have already been diagnosed with HPV (human papillomavirus) end up being recommended for screening.
Likewise, if you know anyone with a history of abusing alcohol, or even if they happen to be a heavy drinker, then it would be a good idea to suggest they talk to their doctor about getting a liver screening. Patients who have a history of alcoholism are very likely to develop liver cancer after getting any other liver disease, or even long-standing cirrhosis.