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Liver Cancer: Common Treatments and Side Effects

Sunday, 05 Jan 2014 12:10 AM

Liver cancer occurs in a large group of people in the U.S. The latest report published by the National Cancer Institute states that about 23,000 men and 8,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with primary liver cancer with most of them being over 64 years of age.
In addition to primary liver cancer that originates in the liver, there are other metastatic cancers that cause secondary liver cancer. These are cancers of the lungs, colon, breasts, and other parts of the body that eventually affect the liver also.

Risk Factors for Developing Liver Cancer
Some of the risk factors for developing liver cancer are hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus infection, heavy alcohol usage, cirrhosis, aflatoxin ingestion, obesity, diabetes, and increased storage of iron in the liver.
 
Some of the symptoms of liver cancer include:pain in the upper right side of abdomen,
swollen abdomen and presence of lumps in the upper abdomen, loss of appetite, feeling of fullness, weight loss, weakness, nausea, and yellow skin and eyes and pale stools due to jaundice.

diagnosing Liver Cancer
Liver cancer can be diagnosed through biopsy, CT scan, MRI scan, ultrasound test,
physical exam, and blood tests

Liver Cancer Treatments
Treatments used for liver cancer depends on the size and location of tumors, the extent to which it has spread in the liver, and whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Accordingly, one or a combination of the following treatments may be advised by your doctor: surgery, transplant, ablation, chemoembolization, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Surgery involves removal of a part of the affected liver. Up to 80 percent of the liver may be removed; the liver can regrow over several weeks. Surgery has side effects such as diarrhea, feeling of fullness, tiredness, increased healing time, and need for pain medication.
 
Liver transplant are possible once a suitable donor liver is available, a portion or the entire liver is transplanted as a part of treatment. This is a suitable solution only when the size of the tumor is smaller and the cancer has not spread outside of the liver. Donor liver rejection is a risk factor that is combated by taking medication. Side effects include puffiness, high blood pressure, and increased body hair.
 
In the ablation treatment procedure, the targeted cancer cells are destroyed either through heat generated via a directed probe (radiofrequency ablation) or by injected alcohol in the tumor site (percutaneous ethanol injection). Ablation is preferred when liver transplant is not possible or in those with cirrhosis where the liver function is poor. Side effects include fever and pain after the procedure.

With chemoembolization, a small catheter is injected into the hepatic artery and through it an anticancer drug is injected, followed by small spongelike particles that block the artery. Without receiving proper blood supply, the tumor dies while the liver is alive and functioning through the blood supply received from the hepatic vein. Side effects of this therapy include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
 
Targeted therapy, uses specific medications such as sorafenib that are administered to treat the tumor by cutting the blood supply and slowing their growth. Side effects of this therapy include nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, loss of appetite, chest pain, occasional bleeding, and blisters in hands and feet.
 
High energy radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells, either internally (from radioactive spheres injected into the body) or externally (from radiation machine). Side effects of radiation therapy include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
 
Chemotherapy is cancer treatment drugs administered intravenously into the blood stream. Chemotherapy can be performed for outpatients. Side effects include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, headache, fever and chills, body weakness, and increased susceptibility to infections.

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Did you know the treatments available for liver cancer? Though removing a portion of the diseased liver or performing transplantation are the most successful cures, other treatments are also effective in providing temporary solutions.
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2014-10-05
Sunday, 05 Jan 2014 12:10 AM
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