Liver Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Early detection of liver cancer holds the most promise for treatment for this chronic condition. Unfortunately, it is not usually discovered until later. Doctors determine the best treatment options by identifying how far the cancer has advanced. The system used categorizes liver cancers in this way:
- Potentially resectable or transplantable – this is a stage at which a patient may be eligible for a liver transplant or the cancer may not be very advanced, and surgery may remove all the cancer. Some stage 2 tumors also fit into this category.
- Unresectable – At this stage, safe removal of the tumor is unlikely, or it is in a part of the liver that makes it difficult to remove. A liver that has several tumors or cancer throughout the liver is also in this category.
- Inoperable with only local disease – In these situations, the patient isn’t healthy enough for an operation, but the cancers are small enough and in the right place for removal. Alternative treatment options are considered.
- Advanced liver cancer – At this stage, the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs and cannot be treated with surgery. Some treatments may help slow the spread of the disease and controlling the growth of the cancer.
Even though early diagnosis is difficult, the earlier liver cancer is detected, the better the options for treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer
Liver cancer shares signs and symptoms with other conditions and is difficult to diagnose, especially in the early stages. However, if you have any of these symptoms, it is best to get examined to identify the cause:
- Unexpected weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Feeling full after a small meal
- An enlarged liver (a full feeling under ribs on the right side)
- An enlarged spleen (full feeling under ribs on the left side)
- Pain in the abdomen or near the right shoulder blade
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
Abnormal bleeding or bruising, fever and enlarged veins on the belly are additional symptoms of liver cancer.
Any decline in your normal state of health should be checked out by your doctor. Contact Dr. Michael if you have health concerns or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed.