Follow-up Treatment for Liver Cancer
As we discussed before, treating advanced stages of liver cancer is a challenge. It is a long-term treatment and probably a life-long one too.
However, this does not necessarily mean that cancer that has been successfully treated while in its early stages does not have a risk of recurring. The usual follow-up treatment for liver cancer is as below:
1. Despite successful treatment, it might have never been cured completely or may recur in some other part of the body.
In such cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy or a combination of both or other therapies may be continued as follow-up treatment for liver cancer to keep the medical condition under check.
2. Even after completing treatment, the patient will have to be kept under close watch through follow-up visits to the doctor.
He/she will ask questions about the recurrence of symptoms of liver cancer or other symptoms that you might be experiencing. These other symptoms might be cancer manifesting itself in some other part of the body or a new medical condition. Irrespective of the return of certain symptoms or other new symptoms, medical tests will be recommended at regular intervals.
This is to confirm the absence or reappearance of symptoms of cancer. These medical tests include liver function tests (LFT), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), and imaging tests like CT scan, MRI scan, and ultrasound.
3. These tests also check for the signs of side effects of treatment.
Some side effects might continue for a long span of time. While others may become apparent only after several hours of the completed treatment. In this case, the physician may recommend more suitable alternatives as follow-up treatment for liver cancer.
4. Patients who have undergone surgery, ablative therapy, or liver transplant as a treatment for liver cancer are usually advised to schedule follow-up visits.
These are recommended every 3 to 6 months for the first 2 years after treatment. After the completion of 2 years, the follow-up visits can be lessened to every 6 to 12 months. This means that the patient needs to get all the medical tests done before the visit to the doctor.
5. Liver transplant requires specific follow-up treatment because the doctor needs to evaluate every few months about how well the body is adapting to or rejecting the new organ.
That aside, the usual follow-up procedure for post-surgery after-care and analyzing the side effects are also applicable. Doctors generally prescribe strong medications to ensure that the new organ is well accepted by the body.
These drugs can have their own side effects like weakening the immune system. This may leave the body susceptible to the risk of infections. The medical experts in the liver transplant team usually explain to the patients about the warning signs and symptoms of a recurrence or side effects that they should watch out for.