Liver cancer pain can be pulsating, sharp, or dull and constant. The nature of the pain can vary based on the size and location of the tumors and how they affect surrounding tissue.
In this article, we look at what liver cancer pain feels like, where the pain may occur, and other symptoms that can indicate liver cancer. We will also look at other conditions that could cause similar symptoms.
Pain from liver cancer does not typically come and go. Instead, it is usually persistent, or chronic. How the pain feels can depend on where the tumors are.
When tumors grow on organs or tissues, it can cause soft tissue damage. This may cause pain that feels as though it is pulsating. Tumors can also press on nerves, which may cause nerve pain that feels sharp or stabbing.
In some cases, people with liver cancer also have tumors that metastasize to bone. This can cause a dull, constant pain that
If tumors block blood vessels or other channels, this can also result in pain.
Pain from liver cancer
Liver cancer can cause visceral pain or parietal pain. Visceral pain occurs in the cavities between organs due to pressure from tumors. Visceral pain may feel dull, aching, and constant, or cramp-like.
Parietal pain occurs when the walls of the liver become stretched. This can cause a sharp, localized pain.
Other symptoms that may indicate liver cancer
- a swollen abdomen
- a feeling of pressure or discomfort in the upper right abdomen
- a hard lump underneath the right side of the rib cage
- yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin, or jaundice
- a feeling of fullness and loss of appetite
- unintentional weight loss
- nausea and vomiting
- bruising easily or bleeding
- weakness and tiredness
- dark urine
- chalky, pale bowel movements
If a person has pain in their abdomen, shoulder, or back, it does not necessarily mean they have liver cancer. There are many other causes for these symptoms.
Pain in the right shoulder
Other causes of pain in the right shoulder blade include:
- Gallbladder inflammation: In
one-thirdof cases of gallbladder inflammation, people experience severe pain in their right shoulder.
- Sprain: Sprains are a common cause of shoulder pain and account for
more than 40%of shoulder injuries.
- Fracture: A fracture, or break, in the bones in or around the shoulder can cause pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the arm.
- Swimmer’s shoulder: Swimmer’s shoulder encompasses a variety of shoulder injuries that can occur when a person is swimming, often due to the repetitive shoulder motions involved in swimming strokes. These injuries
- Frozen shoulder: Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition in which the shoulder is painful and difficult to move due to inflammation. The tissue surrounding the shoulder joint becomes stiff, affecting range of motion and causing pain.
Pain in the upper right abdomen
Potential causes of this symptom include:
- Liver conditions: Besides cancer, a person may experience
referred painfrom other liver conditions, such as:
- Kidney conditions: Kidney stones or a kidney infection can cause pain in the upper right area of the abdomen. They may also cause cloudy or bloody urine, pain during urination, chills, and fever.
- Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis
can causepain in the upper abdomen, which may spread to areas of the back.
- Gallstones: Gallstones can cause pain in the upper right abdomen that can last for
A person should contact a doctor if they have any concerns that they may have cancer. They should do this as a matter of urgency if they have:
- pain and other symptoms of liver cancer that persist or worsen after 2 weeks
- significant weight loss in the last 6–12 months without trying
- a lump in the abdomen
If a person develops jaundice or has been vomiting for more than 2 days, they should speak with a doctor as soon as possible.
As the symptoms of liver cancer can be due to other conditions, it is important for a doctor to evaluate them and run diagnostic tests. They may be able to rule out liver cancer or make an early diagnosis. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances are of successful treatment.
Pain from liver cancer can occur in the upper right abdomen, the right shoulder, or the back. The pain may vary depending on the cause. Soft tissue pain may feel pulsating, whereas nerve pain can be sharp or stabbing. In cases where tumors metastasize to bone, a person may experience deep, dull pain.
However, there are a variety of other potential causes for pain in the upper right abdomen or the right shoulder. These include gallstones, other liver conditions, and kidney conditions.
Only a doctor can diagnose the cause of these symptoms. If a person has any concerns they may have cancer, they should consult a physician.