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What Is Advanced Liver Cancer?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Advanced liver cancer occurs when cancer cells spread into both lobes of the liver or into other areas of the body. Unfortunately, doctors often have trouble diagnosing this disease until it is in the advanced stages. Some of the most common symptoms of advanced liver cancer include loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss. Fever may or may not be present along with other symptoms. Frequently, the liver may be enlarged and even feel a little lumpy.

Initial symptoms of advanced liver cancer are often so similar to other less serious conditions that the diagnosis is not made until other illnesses have been ruled out, giving the cancer more time to spread to other areas of the body. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is further complicated by the fact that there are usually no noticeable symptoms at all in the earlier stages of the disease. Once advanced liver cancer develops, there is not much that can be done to save the life of the patient.

Symptoms of advanced liver cancer may begin as a feeling of extreme fatigue and weakness. The patient then tends to notice a decline in appetite, resulting in significant weight loss. There may be some abdominal tenderness or swelling in the upper right portion of the abdomen, with lumps or hardened areas easily felt when pressing on the tender area. If bile ducts become blocked, jaundice may develop, causing the skin and the white part of the eyes to appear yellow.

There is not currently a cure for advanced liver cancer. There are some potential treatment options which may slow the progression of the disease and prolong the patient's life for a few weeks or months. Unfortunately, the two-year survival rate for those with advanced liver cancer is very low.

Chemotherapy or radiation treatments are sometimes used to slow the progression of the disease and ease some of the pain associated with this type of cancer. Chemotherapy is the use of specific drugs that are made from chemicals designed to slow the growth of the disease and destroy some of the cancer cells. Radiation treatment may help to reduce pain levels in those who are experiencing severe pain, but this form of treatment has very little effect on the disease itself. Any questions or concerns about advanced liver cancer or the type of treatment method which is most appropriate for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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