Metastatic Liver Cancer

by Garreth Myers


There are two main types of liver cancer, primary and metastatic liver cancer. Cancer which develops in the liver itself is known as primary liver cancer while cancer which originates in other parts of the body and then affects the liver is known as metastatic liver cancer. Metastatic liver cancer normally develops in body parts such as the stomach, pancreas, lungs, lymphatic system, breasts and gastrointestinal tract and then gradually enters the liver. In the case of metastatic liver cancer life expectancy can be influenced by factors like age, current health status, state of mind and type of cancer treatment being given to the patient. Experienced doctors are in a better position to determine metastatic liver cancer life expectancy for different patients. Metastatic liver cancer happens to be one of the most fatal liver diseases and chances of survival are quite rare. In the case of metastatic liver cancer survival rate would rarely go beyond a year in situations where the cancer is not treated or treated with simple systemic chemotherapy and even in cases where other means of treatment are used in the case of advanced cancers. The approximate liver cancer survival rate can be indicated at the time of diagnosis itself when the cancer is in its initial stages.

One of the main metastatic or secondary liver cancer causes is a primary cancer in some other area of the person's body. If the cancer cells from the primary cancer pass into the blood stream they are more likely to settle in the liver as all the blood from the body passes through the liver at some point. Since the liver filters blood from the body it is the most probable site of metastatic cancer. Therefore people who suffer from cancers in the colon, stomach, pancreas, breasts and lungs are always more at risk to developing metastatic liver disease. Determining the exact metastatic liver cancer causes helps in determining which treatment would be best suited for the patient. Some of the common symptoms of metastatic liver cancer include weight loss, anorexia, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, nausea and an enlarged spleen. Some patients may even experience pain or discomfort in upper right side of the abdomen and right shoulder on account of liver enlargement. Another common indicator of metastatic liver disease could be severe jaundice. Since these symptoms can be associated with other health problems as well, it will always help to get them checked by a reputed doctor who can make a correct diagnosis.

Treatments

There is no guaranteed cure for liver cancer because in most cases the cancer is only diagnosed in the advanced stages. Many hospitals these days use a combination of new as well as traditional therapies to facilitate the treatment of metastatic liver cancer patients. Determining the right kind of treatment for liver cancer depends on factors like which body part the cancer has spread from, how much of the liver has been affected and whether other parts of the body have also been affected by the cancer. Normally doctors use a combination of therapies such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), intra-arterial chemotherapy and chemoembolization as a treatment for liver cancer. Radiation therapy generally helps in relieving severe pain caused by advanced metastases but does not help in prolonging the patient's life. Systemic chemotherapy helps in shrinking the tumors and prolongs life to some extent but will mostly be palliative. Intra-arterial chemotherapy generally has milder side effects and can improve the quality of the cancer patient's life. In addition to these therapies, many patients also use naturopathy, nutritional therapy, mind-body medication and spiritual support as a treatment for liver cancer.


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