Liver Cancer Risk Factors
Primary Tumors: Risk Factors

Hepatocellular carcinoma is not common in the United States; however, it ranks as the fourth most common cancer worldwide. These primary liver tumors arise much more often in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
While the exact cause of primary liver cancer is unknown, major risk factors include:
  • Chronic viral hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C infection
  • Chronic alcohol abuse
  • Cirrhosis (buildup of scar tissue in the liver)
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Anabolic steroid usage
  • Family history of both hepatitis and liver cancer
  • Certain metabolic disorders such as hemochromatosis
Secondary (Metastatic) Liver Tumors: Risk Factors
  • Secondary, or metastatic, liver tumors begin as primary cancers in other organs such as the colon, rectum, pancreas, stomach, lung or breast. Because the liver is supplied with nutrient-rich blood from the intestines, cancers affecting the gastrointestinal tract may spread to the liver.
  • Liver metastases may already be present at the time that a primary cancer is diagnosed in another part of the body. Or, they may arise months or even years after a person has been treated for a primary tumor.