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Living With Liver Cancer: Here’s What You Need To Know

Living With Liver Cancer: Here’s What You Need To Know

Living with liver cancer, or any form of cancer for that matter is never easy. Aside from the physical symptoms, there are also a number of mental hurdles that cancer patients go through. However, having an idea of what to expect can help people attain some peace of mind. Here’s what you need to know about living with liver cancer.

Living With Liver Cancer: Dealing With the Diagnosis

Getting a cancer diagnosis is often very difficult. This is especially true when it comes to liver cancer.

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Primary liver cancer is considered as a “silent disease.” This means that it doesn’t always cause symptoms. And without any clear symptoms, it’s possible to have liver cancer for years, and then find out that you have it at a very late stage1.

This absence of symptoms is also the reason why liver cancer is usually detected in the latter stages. Treatment can still be done even for stage IV cancer patients, but the general prognosis is poor. Late-stage cancer, in general, is more difficult to treat compared to cancer in its early stages. Liver cancer in itself is also much harder to treat compared to other forms of cancer.

Based on data gathered in England, about 40% of liver cancer patients survive their first year after diagnosis. However, just 15% will survive for 5 years after the diagnosis2.

Despite the prognosis being poor, many people have survived stage IV cancer. These days, there are a number of treatment options available for patients, and new breakthroughs are being discovered at a rapid pace. So if you do get diagnosed with liver cancer, don’t be discouraged or feel hopeless.

What Forms of Treatment Are Available?

Living with liver cancer means finding an effective treatment for your condition. Here are some of the forms of treatment available3:

Surgery or Transplant

Removing the diseased area of the liver is one option for treating liver cancer. Theoretically, up to 80% of the liver can be removed by surgeons if the patient is healthy. Over time, the removed portions will grow back and the liver will function as normal.

In cases where the cancer has spread too much, a complete liver transplant might be necessary.

liver transplant

Ablation Therapy

Ablation therapy involves destroying tumors in the liver without surgery. This includes cryoablation, microwave ablation, radiofrequency ablation and ethanol ablation.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves using powerful medication to kill off cancer cells. This can be done through pills or by direct injection.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy involves strengthening the body’s own immune system in order to fight off the cancer.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy involves using radiation targeted towards specific parts of the liver in order to destroy any cancer cells or tumors4.

Is It Possible for Liver Cancer To Return?

Like most cancers, there is still a chance that after your treatment, liver cancer can return. It’s possible for the cancer to affect the liver once more, or it can even spread to other parts of the body.

It is important to remember that if you have had liver cancer, there is a risk that it could come back. You should be ready for the possibility that it could recur, and in some cases, it might not be treatable. This is why it is important to have follow-up checkups after treatment, so that your doctor can keep tabs on your condition.

Lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and exercising, are also important to help keep your body strong and lower the risk of recurrence.

When it comes to living with liver cancer, the most important thing is to stay positive and to do your best in making the most of your life.

Learn more about Liver Cancer here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1 Liver Cancer | Cancer Support Community, https://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/liver-cancer, Accessed December 22, 2021

2 Survival | Liver cancer | Cancer Research UK, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/liver-cancer/survival, Accessed December 22, 2021

3 Liver Cancer: Diagnosis, Tests, Management and Treatment, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9418-liver-cancer#management-and-treatment, Accessed December 22, 2021

4 Coping with Liver Cancer | CancerCare, https://www.cancercare.org/publications/238-coping_with_liver_cancer, Accessed December 22, 2021

5 Living as a Liver Cancer Survivor, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/liver-cancer/after-treatment/follow-up.html, Accessed December 22, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Dec 22, 2021
Fact Checked by Vincent Sales