Every year, liver cancer is becoming an increasingly common problem, which mostly affects men of age 50-60 years. An important step towards full recovery is the selection of a qualified specialist in a medical center with modern equipment, which is the main principle of treating liver cancer abroad.
Despite the seriousness of this malignant neoplasm, with timely diagnosis and proper treatment, it is possible to completely overcome the disease and reduce the negative consequences. In this article, the main characteristics of liver cancer will be discussed, its symptoms and first signs, as well as types of treatment that are currently available and which of them are more effective.
Symptoms and early signs of liver cancer
Liver cancer is dangerous because its symptoms and first signs are often vague and do not appear in the initial stages. This complicates the initial diagnosis and may delay the process of going to the doctor.
Here are the most common symptoms of liver cancer:
- Weight loss;
- Loss of appetite;
- Severe pain in the abdomen during exercise;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes, mucous membranes);
- General weakness and fatigue;
- Yellowing of eye sclera;
- Dark urine, light stool;
- Increase in body temperature (above 37 degrees)
- Significantly enlarged liver;
- Discomfort due to bloating.
These symptoms are often perceived as a general malaise, the effects of fatigue or stressful situations. They may also appear as a result of a more common disease, such as an infection, but it is best to consult a specialist to start treatment of liver cancer abroad in a timely manner. This significantly increases the positive outcome of treatment.
Types of Liver Cancer
Specialists distinguish two types of liver cancer:
- Primary liver cancer;
- Secondary liver cancer (metastatic liver cancer).
Primary liver cancer is cancer during which malignant cells affect the liver. Primary liver cancer may be of the following types:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (the most common type of liver cancer);
The prognosis of cure in the case of primary liver cancer is generally poor. However, with the help of modern equipment and treatment methods that specialists use to treat liver cancer abroad, recovery is possible.
Secondary liver cancer is cancer that occurred in another part of the body and spread to the liver. The location of the cancer formation is called primary cancer. Typically, metastatic liver cancer is characterized by rapid progression, which is accompanied by the absence of any signs or symptoms.
Stages of liver cancer
According to the generally accepted Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) staging system, which takes into account the stage, liver function, symptoms, and optimal treatment options, the following stages are distinguished:
- Stage 0 - early stage, asymptomatic, without metastatic lesions;
- Stage A - one or more formations (no more than three) up to 3 cm in size, the absence of cirrhosis;
- Stage B - numerous formations larger than 3 cm in size, liver functionality is impaired;
- Stage C - late stage, lymph nodes are affected, metastases are noted, portal hypertension is present;
- Stage D - terminal, liver failure is actively developing, portal hypertension.
It is very important to determine the stage of development of the disease in a timely manner, with which oncologists in clinics that specialize in the treatment of liver cancer abroad deal with professionally. The subsequent successful recovery depends on a correctly determined stage.
The most common risk factors for developing liver cancer are the following:
- The presence of liver diseases, in particular hepatitis C or B;
- Liver cirrhosis (causes of liver cirrhosis: alcohol consumption, chronic infections, for example, hepatitis C or B, high level of iron in the liver);
- Smoking and alcohol consumption;
- Gender and age (men of older age are more susceptible to the disease);
- Genetic predisposition;
- Consumption of anabolic steroids (male hormones that are popular among athletes);
- Arsenic (continued use or poisoning of arsenic can impair liver function, which is a risk factor for liver cancer);
- Congenital metabolic disorders;
Diagnosis of liver cancer at CMC Hospital
CMC Hospital is a leader among clinics that treat liver cancer abroad. Diagnosis of liver cancer is carried out by highly qualified specialists who apply in their practice only the most modern methods and the best equipment:
- Blood test;
- Ultrasound Examination is one of the most common methods of primary diagnosis, which allows determining the presence of a large tumor;
- Tumor biopsy is an accurate method for diagnosing liver cancer, which is used to confirm the diagnosis. The biopsy procedure is inserting a thin needle into the liver under the control of an ultrasound machine and, if cancer cells are found, liver cancer is considered the final diagnosis;
- Laparoscopy is the most accurate method for diagnosing liver cancer. An abdominal incision is made under a short-term anesthesia and the doctor takes the tumor cells for analysis;
- Computed Tomography (CT) is a method that allows identifying even the smallest tumors that are not yet visible during ultrasound examination. Also, for more accuracy, the CMC Hospital uses a contrast method.
Liver cancer treatment abroad
Highly qualified oncologists at CMC Hospital begin treatment by specifying the diagnosis and determining the stage of development of the disease. Timely detection of a malignant tumor is the key to effective treatment.
There are currently three of the most common treatment options:
- Surgical intervention;
- Radiotherapy, or radiation therapy;
As a rule, these methods are not used independently, but in combination, which increases their effectiveness. The choice of specialists regarding each individual method and their complex is always individual, taking into account the characteristics and medical history of each patient, which makes CMC Hospital one of the best options for treating liver cancer.
Surgical treatment of liver cancer
Surgery is considered the preferred treatment if the tumor is operable. The fact is that the liver is an organ that can easily cope with cell regeneration, so the part of the liver that has been removed is gradually regenerated.
There are two methods of surgical intervention that are used by specialists in the treatment of liver cancer abroad:
- Resection - removal of part of the liver;
- Organ transplantation.
As a rule, for greater treatment effectiveness, surgery is performed in combination with subsequent chemotherapy.
Of the minuses of the surgical treatment of liver cancer, it is worth highlighting that there is a likelihood of re-occurrence of cancer after surgery. Also, the difficulties of using this method lie in the fact that it is not suitable for patients in the late stages of the disease and can cause complications from the body weakened by cancer.
Based on the foregoing, it can be concluded that surgery is an effective treatment method, but subject to the supervision of a highly qualified specialist.
Radiotherapy, or radiation therapy, for liver cancer is a treatment method in which several specialists are immediately involved, including oncologists and radiation therapy specialists.
When prescribing this method, it is important to take into account the general condition of the patient’s body and start from this when choosing the necessary dosage. Clinic specialists constantly monitor treatment and instantly respond to the occurrence of any side effects. If the patient’s body is weakened or if the patient belongs to a higher age category, then the dose of radiation is reduced. If the patient normally tolerate radiotherapy, then the dose of radiation increases.
Radiotherapy is often an effective way to treat liver cancer, which is actively used abroad. It is combined in combination with subsequent medical treatment, which can significantly extend the patient's life or even completely relieve the ailment. But, unfortunately, there are numerous options when radiotherapy does not help the patient or has a temporary positive effect. That is why the control of a professional specialist is required.
Chemotherapy is considered the most effective way to treat liver cancer abroad. This treatment is prescribed to almost all patients in various medication combinations or as an addition to complex treatment. It is chemotherapy that allows achieving the highest level of survival.
Currently, the following chemotherapy methods are used to treat liver cancer:
- Regional chemotherapy -the injection of drugs to the hepatic artery;
Medications for chemotherapy are used in several ways:
Chemotherapy for liver cancer is performed on an outpatient basis. This makes it possible to be constantly monitored by specialists and immediately respond to side effects or weakening of the patient's body.
Chemotherapy is a cyclical treatment that alternates between cycles of intensive treatment and recovery of the body. Also, before starting chemotherapy, patients are advised to undergo preliminary therapy, which will reduce side effects.
The most common side effects of chemotherapy are the following:
- Intestinal irritation, diarrhea
- Weakening of the immune system;
- Hair loss;
- Loss of appetite;
- Urinary incontinence.
The above-mentioned symptoms usually disappear after chemotherapy is completed.