Warning signs of liver cancer revealed after death of Bill Kenwright

Six little-known warning signs of liver cancer revealed after death of Everton chairman Bill Kenwright

  • There are more than 6,000 liver cancer cases in the UK each year, charities say
  • Symptoms include jaundice, weight loss and a swollen abdomen or a lump 

Legendary West End theatre producer and Everton FC chairman Bill Kenwright has died age 78 following a battle with liver cancer.

The Liverpudlian, fondly known as ‘Uncle Bill’, ‘passed away peacefully’ on Monday night while surrounded by loved ones, his family said.

The former Coronation Street star had undergone surgery in August to remove the cancer, which kills around 6,000 Brits every year. 

While the op was successful, complications saw him spend ‘a prolonged period’ in intensive care, Everton said at the time.

Here, MailOnline shares some of the warning signs of the disease, thought to be the fastest-rising cancer killer in the UK. Mortality rates have tripled since the early 70s.

The football executive sitting next to England coach Gareth Southgate at Goodison Park in May 2022

Symptoms of liver cancer include jaundice, weight loss and a swollen abdomen or a lump

Yellowing of the skin

Liver cancer can cause the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow, known as jaundice.

It occurs if the tumour has caused a blockage in the bile duct or stops the liver from working properly, according to Cancer Research UK.

The bile duct is a tube that usually drains fluid called bilirubin – a yellow pigment formed when red blood cells break down – from the liver to the small intestine.

But tumours can cause bilirubin to build up in the blood, which can cause the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow.

It can also result in pale faeces, dark urine and itchy skin.

However, as well as cancer, jaundice can also be triggered by alcohol-related liver disease, gallstones, hepatitis, pancreatitis and sickle cell disease, the NHS says.

It urges anyone with jaundice to seek urgent medical help. The health service notes that the condition is common and usually harmless in newborn babies.

The director with Andrew Lloyd Webber at a party following the press night for Whistle Down The Wind at the Hilton Green Park in 2006 

Swollen tummy 

A swollen tummy could be a sign of liver cancer.

As the tumour grows, it can result in swelling on the right side of the abdomen, according to Cancer Research UK.

Additionally, a swollen tummy can be caused by a tumour increasing pressure in the liver, which can cause blood to back up in the veins. This pressure can cause ascites – when fluid is forced out of the veins and builds up in the abdomen.

Liver cancer can also trigger ascites if the organ fails to produce enough albumin – a blood protein that keeps fluid from leaking out of the bloodstream.

A swollen abdomen may be accompanied by swollen veins that are visible under the surface of the abdomen, due to increased pressure in the liver, the charity says.

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, pictured with his long-term partner actress Jenny Seagrove, has died at the age of 78 

A lump on your right side

A lump on the right side of the abdomen could be a warning sign of liver cancer.

Located just under the ribcage, a hard lump, that may be painful, could be a tumour, the NHS says. It may only be noticeable at a later stage, after the tumour has grown.

Strangely, this lump can also cause pain in the right shoulder, according to Macmillan.

This so-called referred pain can occur if the liver stimulates the nerves under the diaphragm – the sheet of muscle under the lungs – that connect to nerves in the right shoulder.

Bill Kenwright dies aged 78: Everton chairman and legendary West End theatre impresario behind Blood Brothers, Joseph and Fame passes away days after returning home from surgery on cancerous liver tumour

Itchy skin

As well as turning skin yellow, liver cancer can also make skin feel itchy.

This itchiness is caused by bile salts.

The liver produces bile to help digest food. But when bile ducts become blocked, which can be caused by a tumour, bile salts can deposit in the skin.

This can result in severe itching, Macmillan says.

The charity recommends showers to wash off bile salts and using moisturiser to ease itching.

Loss of appetite 

Many symptoms of liver cancer can affect digestion and therefore appetite.

Nausea, indigestion and a sore and swollen tummy are all symptoms of liver cancer that affect your digestion, the NHS says.

As a result, those with liver cancer may lose their appetite and feel full after just eating small amounts, Cancer Research says.

Weight loss

Losing a lot of weight without meaning to can be a sign of liver cancer.

This can occur if symptoms – such as a loss of appetite or swollen tummy – mean a person is eating less than usual.

However, for many cancer patients there is external trigger for weight loss.

Weight may fall off due to cachexia, according to Cancer Research UK.

Also called wasting syndrome, this is a state where the body doesn’t absorb all the fat, protein and carbohydrate from food and burns calories faster than normal. It can occur in cancer patients and in those with chronic illness.

The charity urges people to visit their doctor if there is no obvious cause for their weight loss, so a medic can investigate.

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