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What Is the Connection between Lung and Liver Cancer?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud

Cancer is a disease that affects people of all demographics worldwide. Many types of cancer may change locations, or metastasize, as is the case with lung and liver cancer. The link between lung and liver cancer is due to this traveling of cancer cells from one region of the body to the next.

Lung cancer is a growth, or mass, located in the lungs, which has a large increase in the amount of cells present. This growth may also be referred to as a tumor and typically is described as either malignant or benign. Benign tumors are generally not cancerous and are limited in size, whereas malignant tumors are caused by uncontrollable cancerous growth.

A human respiratory system.
A human respiratory system.

Cancerous masses in the lungs usually begin in the trachea, lungs, or bronchi. This type of cancer is rare in persons under the age of 45, but it is the deadliest type of cancer for both men and women and is more frequently diagnosed in smokers. Pollution, asbestos, and chemical exposure may also contribute to lung cancer probability. If symptoms such as a long-term cough, shortness of breath, or unexpected weight loss are experienced, a person may be suffering from this disease.

Cancer in the lung can metastasize to the liver.
Cancer in the lung can metastasize to the liver.

As with most cancers, liver cancer can be classified as primary if it originated in the liver or secondary if the cancerous growth originated elsewhere. This type of cancer is the third most common in the world. The leading causes are the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses.

Lung and liver cancer may be consequences or causes of each other. Many cancers spread, and this traveling of cancerous cells generally occurs when the cells leak from a malignant mass, usually entering the blood stream through a vessel or lymphatic duct. Once these cells are in the blood stream, they are free to travel and lodge in different locations in the body. It is thought that the cells need to survive in a similar location to their origin; therefore, the similarities between the lung and liver environments may explain the common link between these cancers. This is known as the seed and soil theory.

The metastasizing of cancer is most frequent when cancer is in its later stages. Lung and liver cancer are of course not the only types of linked cancers, but they are frequently connected due to the seed and soil theory. The treatment for lung and liver cancer is similar to the treatment of other cancers and includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and palliative care for those situations that are further advanced.

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    • A human respiratory system.
      By: pixelcaos
      A human respiratory system.
    • Cancer in the lung can metastasize to the liver.
      By: Sebastian Kaulitzki
      Cancer in the lung can metastasize to the liver.