What Is the Connection between Breast and Liver Cancer?

Erin J. Hill

Breast and liver cancer are heavily linked and commonly occur together. The liver is one of the most common places for breast cancer to spread once it has metastasized. Liver cancer may also spread into the breasts once it moves beyond the surrounding lymph nodes. Signs and symptoms of both cancers may also be similar.

Breast cancer often spreads to the liver.
Breast cancer often spreads to the liver.

Breast cancer is any malignancy which presents itself in one or both breasts. This can occur in male and females, but it happens most often in women. Once breast cancer begins to metastasize, or spread, it often first moves into the lymph nodes closest to the breasts. Beyond this point, cancer cells may then migrate into the liver and eventually other organs. Both breast and liver cancer are potentially life-threatening when found in the later stages.

Breast cancer is any malignancy which presents itself in one or both breasts.
Breast cancer is any malignancy which presents itself in one or both breasts.

Liver cancer may spread into the breasts in a similar fashion. Both breast and liver cancer may also eventually spread even farther into the body and affect other organs like the ovaries, colon, or pancreas. Treatment tactics may vary between both cancers, since breast cancer can often be treated by removing any tumors and sometimes one or both breasts. Both cancers may be treated with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

There are also differences between breast and liver cancer. Breast cancer is primarily a women's disease, although men can occasionally be affected. Primary liver cancers, however, affect mostly men. Women are advised to routinely check their breasts and under the arms for unusual lumps and other growths, but men may also benefit from this. It is important to familiarize oneself with the normal feel and look of one's breasts so that these self-examinations are more effective.

Engaging in certain activities may increase the risk for breast and liver cancer. Smoking, eating a diet high in fat and living a sedentary lifestyle are all risk factors for many types of cancer. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, is important for avoiding many forms of cancer. Exercising regularly and going for annual medical examinations are also beneficial in early detection for breast and other cancers.

Women over the age of 40 are advised to get yearly mammograms to detect breast cancer as early as possible. Those with a strong family history of breast cancer may be advised to begin sooner. There are no routine tests to check for liver cancer.

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