CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
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It's not clear what causes most cases of liver cancer. But in some cases, the cause is known. For instance, chronic infection with certain hepatitis viruses can cause liver cancer.
Liver cancer occurs when liver cells develop changes (mutations) in their DNA — the material that provides instructions for every chemical process in your body. DNA mutations cause changes in these instructions. One result is that cells may begin to grow out of control and eventually form a tumor — a mass of cancerous cells.
Types of liver cancer
Primary liver cancer, which begins in the cells of the liver, is divided into different types based on the kind of cells that become cancerous. Types include:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma. This is the most common form of primary liver cancer. It starts in the hepatocytes, the main type of liver cell.
- Cholangiocarcinoma. This type of cancer begins in the small tube-like bile ducts within the liver. This type of cancer is sometimes called bile duct cancer.
- Hepatoblastoma. This liver cancer affects infants and young children.
- Angiosarcoma or hemangiosarcoma. These cancers begin in the blood vessels of the liver and grow very quickly.
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