Liver cancer symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment high white blood cell count cancer

Those who have any symptoms of liver cancer or risk factors for developing the disease should see their doctor. A physician can take a careful history and perform a physical exam. For some, screening tests may be considered. Depending on the evaluation, a combination of blood tests and imaging studies may also be done to form a diagnosis.

• Labs and tests: Blood work (such as liver function tests), a hepatitis panel, and tumor markers are often the first steps in diagnosing liver cancer. One specific test, the alpha-fetoprotein tumor marker test (AFP), may be ordered to screen for liver diseases.

• Biopsy: Unlike many cancers, the diagnosis of liver cancer is often made based on imaging findings rather than biopsy. A biopsy may not be needed unless it is important to understand the molecular characteristics of the tumor, such as in a clinical trial.

• Chemotherapy: There are different combinations of chemotherapy drugs that may be given for liver cancer. Chemotherapy works by attacking rapidly dividing cells in the body. Unfortunately, there are normal cells in the body that divide rapidly as well, which gives rise to the well-known side effects of chemotherapy, such as hair loss and increased risk of infection. Chemoembolization is a procedure in which chemotherapy is given directly into a large artery (transarterial) that enters the liver. Chemoembolization may be used as the main treatment, but is also used to attempt to slow down the growth of a tumor while a person is awaiting a liver transplant.

• Targeted T herapy: Targeted therapy drugs differ from chemotherapy in that they target a particular pathway in the growth of a cancer cell. Nexavar (sorafenib), Lenvima (lenvatinib), and Sivorga (regorafenib) all improve survival and are currently standard treatments for people with advanced liver cancer.

• Liver transplant: The diseased liver is removed and is replaced with a part or an entire healthy liver. This may be a good option for those with extensive disease or who have decompensated liver failure but are otherwise in reasonable health.

• Radiation therapy: This may involve external beam radiation therapy (treating a large area of tumor, usually to reduce symptoms or extend life, not to cure a tumor); stereotactic body radiotherapy, or SBRT (using a high dose of radiation for a small area of tissue to eradicate a tumor); or brachytherapy (placing radioactive beads in the liver).

Regardless of what type of treatment plan you and your doctor choose, you should know all the options that are available. The National Cancer Institute also recommends considering the option of clinical trials. Many are in progress and are looking at combinations of the above therapies, as well as newer treatments such as angiogenesis inhibitors, immunotherapy approaches, and more.

Palliative care involves treating the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments, rather than the cancer itself. Unlike hospice care, palliative care may be used even for people with highly curable cancers. In addition to improving quality of life, a 2018 study suggests that this type of care may improve outcomes for people with liver cancer as well. Prevention

When it comes to preventing liver cancer, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—and preventing hepatitis B and C is especially important. If you can avoid developing these diseases, or receive treatment if you have them, you could potentially lower your risk of liver cancer by up to 90 percent. Even for those who carry these infections, there are treatments that can reduce the risk of developing related cirrhosis, and probably liver cancer.

Limit your consumption of alcohol, and if you smoke, quit. Take time to learn about your family history of any medical conditions, especially those that result in liver problems. And practice caution with any chemicals you are exposed to at work, as some of these are known to cause liver cancer. Coping

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with liver cancer, you may feel like your world has been turned upside down. Yet, there are things you can do that may help you feel like you are at least able to breathe. Learn as much as you can about cancer, but be careful to look at the most recent up-to-date information. Treatments and survival rates are improving, and information that is even a few years old may not reflect those changes. The same goes for survival statistics.

Connecting with the liver cancer community can be helpful both from the standpoint of emotional support and as a way to learn about the latest research on liver cancer. People who are living with the disease are motivated and often know more than even some general oncologists about the latest treatments. You can look for a support group in your community, or find the liver cancer community online. To find the right people, try using the hashtags #livercancer and #livertumor.

Few people experience cancer in isolation, and coping with liver cancer can be as challenging for family caregivers as for those living with the disease. One of the most difficult parts of caregiving for someone with liver cancer is the sense of helplessness you may feel, yet there are ways that you can both help your loved one and cope with this feeling. Learning more about the disease is a great place to start.

Finally, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself as a caregiver as well. This may seem impossible at times, but taking time to make sure your own needs are met will also help you stay as healthy as possible while you care for your loved one.

For those who have been diagnosed with liver cancer, there is still hope. Treatments are improving, and newer treatments are available in clinical trials. Make sure to be an active part of your cancer care. Learn how to be your own advocate, or find a friend or loved one who can be an advocate for you. Self-advocating, when you have cancer, has not only been found to reduce anxiety but at times may even improve outcomes.