“Liver cancer” can refer to either metastatic liver cancer or hepatocellular cancer (HCC); both may lead to terminal cancer and the need for terminal liver cancer treatment. Metastatic liver cancer has spread – metastasized – to the liver from other organs in the general vicinity. These may include the stomach, pancreas, colon, breast and lung. Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) or carcinoma starts in the liver. There are other types of liver cancer originating in the liver, forming in the right lobe, bile ducts or blood vessels. Many of these can spread to other organs in the body.
The American Liver Foundation has listed liver cancer as among the ten major causes of death. However, some types of tumor in liver cancer are benign. The most common type of tumor, hemangiomas, is benign and starts in blood vessels. Hemangiomas tumors may not need to be removed unless they cause bleeding. Focal nodular hyperplasia, the next most common liver cancer, may allow the liver to overall function normally, even though the pattern in which it is working or arranged is abnormal.
If diagnosed with liver cancer, it is important to ask the doctor exactly what the cause is. If the liver has spread to the liver from elsewhere, the liver is part of a potentially much larger problem. If the cancer originated in the liver, why did it come, what type is it and what can be done? Cirrhosis is a major cause, with approximately 95% of people contracting HCC also having cirrhosis. Hepatitis B and C are also triggers for liver cancer.
Liver cancer symptoms include pain and/or swelling in the abdomen, nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness and/or a jaundiced appearance.
Liver cancer is considered terminal if incurable. Not all liver cancers are deadly, but of the types that are not all patients are potentially curable. Much lot rests with the age of the patient (liver cancer, more common among men, can occur at any age) and type and spread of cancer.
The news for patients with HCC is not good. The cancer normally spreads too far to be cured before symptoms present. Because of this, it is estimated that HCC can be cured only in 5% cases. When caught early, the tumors caused by HCC are still small – less than two inches in diameter. The damage to the liver is small in this case and the damaged areas can be removed, or the patient might have a liver transplant.
When caught too late for a cure, liver cancer may be managed by treatment for pain relief, better quality of life and to manage the liver cancer symptoms.
If the cancer is of the metastatic liver cancer stage, treatment will depend on the spread of the cancer and the other affected organs. Chemotherapy and radiation may be the best treatment depending on your individual situation. If the liver cancer is incurable, no matter the source or cause, talk with your doctor about terminal liver cancer treatment that will enhance the quality of life for the patient.