The warning sign under your ribs and 16 other symptoms of the disease

LIVER cancer has a number of symptoms, some of which may be masked by indigestion or a feeling of fullness.

Some 6,100 people are diagnosed with the deadly disease in the UK each year, with the incidence increasing with age.


Liver cancer can cause pain around the lower ribsCredit: Alamy

Liver cancer is the 18th most common cancer in the UK, making it relatively rarer, with more men affected more than women.

Nine out of ten cases are seen in people over 55, making age a major risk factor.

Unfortunately, only 13 percent of patients survive liver cancer for at least five years, with death rates having worsened over the past three decades.

And almost half of the cases are preventable – the leading causes of liver cancer are obesity (23 percent), smoking (20 percent), and alcohol consumption (seven percent).

Read on to find out what to look for, as early diagnosis gives a much better chance of successful treatment.


Pain or a feeling of fullness under the ribs could actually be a sign of the fatal disease, the American Cancer Society said.

The sensation can be either on the right side, caused by an enlarged liver, or on the left side, caused by an enlarged spleen in response to liver cancer.

The liver, the largest organ in the body, is located under the lower part of the rib cage on the right side. It can extend to the left nipple.

Usually the pain is a dull, vague ache. Although it can sometimes be quite serious and cause back pain.


Guts United Kingdom says liver cancer “can cause discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen.” Experts also list shoulder pain.

“Some patients may feel sick or be generally sick”, while “others lose their appetite”.

Other symptoms that affect digestion, according to the NHS, are symptoms of indigestion, such as a feeling of fullness very quickly while eating, even after a small meal, and a swollen stomach which is unrelated to l ‘food.

Apart from that, liver cancer can cause jaundice, which is when the whites of the eyes and skin take on a yellowish tint. Another sign is itchy skin.

The urine may be darker than usual and the stools paler.

A lump on the right side of your stomach, feeling tired or low on energy, and weight loss are other key warning signs.

The American Cancer Society says other symptoms can include fever, enlarged veins on the stomach that can be seen through the skin, and abnormal bruising or bleeding.

Liver cancer may not cause any symptoms and can be caught accidentally, according to charities.

It could have been discovered if a blood test had been taken or if an abnormal area had been examined during a scan.


Your risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

Some of the risk factors for liver cancer are:

  • Age
  • Cirrhosis of the liver – scarring from previous damage such as alcohol or infection
  • Smoking
  • To be overweight
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • HIV or AIDS

There are two types of liver cancer – primary and secondary, which is when the cancer spreads to other organs.

Primary liver cancer is rare in the UK, but rates are increasing, according to Cancer Research UK.

Doctor Renuka Lyer explains symptoms of liver cancer

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