Liver cancer occurs when the cells of your liver lose control of the way they grow and divide. Often times the first signs of liver cancer are vague symptoms like unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite, and nausea. Many symptoms don’t actually appear until later stages of the disease. In order to establish a liver cancer diagnosis, your doctor will put you through a series of tests and exams to establish and verify the cause of your symptoms.
Once liver cancer is diagnosed, your doctor will discuss the extent of your cancer and potential treatment options with you. Generally a liver resection surgery, or partial hepatectomy, is performed to remove any tumors from the liver. To prevent resurgence of the cancer, your doctor may also recommend a combination of other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation. The good news is with early detection and treatment, most patients can be cured of cancer. If you have received a liver cancer diagnosis, here are some important things to keep in mind.
Find your support groups
Any cancer diagnosis is hard news to swallow and each person copes with things in their own way. It is important to find your support groups. From family and friends to large national support organizations, you will need help from others and the support of friends and family along the way. Something specific you should consider is finding a person, whether a spouse or close friend, with whom you are comfortable discussing your hopes, fears, and decision-making processes.
Learn as much as you can about liver cancer
Early on it will be helpful to learn as much as you can about your specific condition and stage as well as treatment options so you can make the most informed decision regarding your treatment and prognosis. This is a great time to bring in your support person. Have them come along to your appointments and help you take in and understand all of the information. Write down any questions you have for your doctor and discuss symptoms and potential effects of any medications you are taking or other conditions you have. Most importantly, don’t just rely on the internet as your primary source of information. While information is widely available on almost any topic, specialized providers you trust who are familiar with your case will be able to provide you with the best information.
Take steps to mitigate risk factors and prevent recurrence
There are a number of risk factors contributing to your likelihood of developing liver cancer. Contracting hepatitis b or c, cirrhosis, excessive alcohol consumption, (ok!) obesity, , and uncontrolled diabetes can put you at serious risk of liver cancer. While you cannot undo your initial diagnosis, you can be cognizant of your increased risk and take steps to ensure an early diagnosis of any resurgence of cancer as well as reduce your future risk through environmental and dietary changes.
If you have received a diagnosis of liver cancer we invite you to learn more about Premier Surgical Associates and our skilled surgeons. Our surgeons are certified by the American Board of Surgery and have specialized knowledge and skill relating to the diagnosis, pre-operative, operative, and post-operative management of surgical oncology.