Liver Cancer Hepatocellular Carcinoma (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
In this Article
- Liver cancer facts
- What is liver cancer?
- What is metastatic liver cancer?
- What causes liver cancer?
- What are the risk factors for liver cancer?
- What are liver cancer symptoms and signs?
- How is liver cancer diagnosed?
- How is liver cancer staged?
- What is the treatment for liver cancer?
- What is the follow-up after treatment for liver cancer?
- What is the prognosis of liver cancer? What are the survival rates for liver cancer?
- Are there alternative and complementary therapies for liver cancer?
- Can liver cancer be prevented?
- Where can you learn more about liver cancer?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What is the follow-up after treatment for liver cancer?
Patients are advised to follow up with the doctor for lab tests and office visits. Patients with chronic liver disease should avoid alcohol and any drugs that can harm the liver. Patients with liver transplants will need to take antirejection drugs for the rest of their life to prevent their body from rejecting the new liver.
What is the prognosis of liver cancer? What are the survival rates for liver cancer?
The prognosis for liver cancer depends on multiple factors such as the size of the liver cancer, the number of lesions, the presence of spread beyond the liver, the health of the surrounding liver tissue, and the general health of the patient. Life expectancy depends on many factors that impact whether a cancer is curable.
The American Cancer Society states the overall 5-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer is 15%. One of the reasons for this low survival rate is that many people with liver cancer also have other underlying medical conditions such as cirrhosis. However, the 5-year survival rate can vary depending on how much the liver cancer has spread.
If the liver cancer is localized (confined to the liver), the 5-year survival rate is 28%. If the liver cancer is regional (has grown into nearby organs), the 5-year survival rate is 7%. Once the liver cancer is distant (spread to distant organs or tissues), the survival time is as low as 2 years.
Survival rate can also be affected by the available treatments. Liver cancers that can be surgically removed have an improved 5-year survival rate of over 50%. When caught in the earliest stages, and the liver is transplanted, the 5-year survival rate can be as high as 70%.
Are there alternative and complementary therapies for liver cancer?
Currently, there are no specifically approved alternative or complementary treatment options for liver cancer. Research on the use of complementary and alternative medicine for liver cancer is limited. Studies suggest that certain alternative therapies may offer benefits for people being treated for all types of cancer, including liver cancer. Some alternative treatments have been found to alleviate unwanted side effects of conventional cancer treatments such as nausea and vomiting.
Acupuncture: Studies have shown acupuncture can help with nausea and vomiting among people with cancer.
Herbal therapy: Milk thistle has been used for centuries to treat liver problems. Mistletoe may also show promise in liver cancer in experimental studies.
Some herbal preparations, such as those mentioned above, may be helpful in treating symptoms associated with liver cancer. Even so, people who have liver cancer need to take extra precautions before taking an herbal remedy.
A person with cancer of the liver may have a harder time processing alcohol than people without liver disease and should avoid alcohol-containing products. Since many herbal preparations in extract form are alcohol-based, people with liver cancer should always check the ingredients for the presence of any alcohol before taking these herbs.
Additionally, some herbal supplements, such as gingko biloba, can cause excess bleeding. Because the liver releases important substances that help the blood to clot, liver cancer can decrease the body's ability to stave off bleeding. People with liver cancer should discuss any new medications, including herbal supplements, with their doctor before taking them.
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