Sunday, March 3, 2024

Why Is Liver Cancer So Deadly

Biological Therapies And Melanoma

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Biological therapies are treatments using substances made naturally by the body. Some of these treatments are called immunotherapy because they help the immune system fight the cancer, or they occur naturally as part of the immune system. There are many biological therapies being researched and trialled, which in the future may help treat people with melanoma. They include monoclonal antibodies and vaccine therapy.

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The dread and fear that can come with a cancer diagnosis have their roots in its killer nature: Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Americans after heart disease, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention . Even when diagnosed early and attacked with the latest treatments, cancer still has the power to kill.

According to the World Health Organisation , the three cancers that killed the most people worldwide in 2020 were lung cancer , colorectal cancer and liver cancer . But those aren’t the deadliest cancers, according to Rebecca Siegel, MPH, senior scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society .

The number of people a cancer kills each year depends on two factors: how many people have it and what percentage of people diagnosed with the cancer survive it , Siegel explained. The deadliest cancers are those with the lowest survival.

Cancer researchers determine survival with a measure called the 5-year relative survival. This is the percentage of people who are expected to survive the effects of a given cancer, excluding risks from other possible causes of death, for five years past a diagnosis, according to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program , a National Cancer Institute initiative that collects, compiles, analyzes and reports data and statistics on cancer cases nationwide.

Q How Long Can You Live With Liver Cancer

  • The survival rate for liver cancer depends on the condition of the liver, the stage of cancer and personal health conditions to cope up with treatment procedures. If the cancer is diagnosed and treated at early stages, the survival rate is high. However, it is difficult to survive if the condition is diagnosed in the last stage of cancer. It is also important to remember that liver cancer can reoccur post treatment procedures depending upon the lifestyle pattern followed.
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    Prognosis And Survival For Liver Cancer

    If you have liver cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis. A prognosis is the doctors best estimate of how cancer will affect someone and how it will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, the type and and other features of the cancer, treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

    A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together. They both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.

    The following are prognostic and predictive factors for liver cancer.

    Prognosis And Survival Rates For Liver Cancer

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    When someone is diagnosed with liver cancer, their doctor will give them a prognosis. A prognosis is the doctors opinion of how likely it is that the cancer will spread, and the chances of getting better. A prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the persons age and general health.

    If you have liver cancer, your doctor will talk to you about your individual situation when working out your prognosis. Every persons experience is different and there is support available to you.

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    What Are The Early Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer

    The early stages of pancreatic cancer are incredibly hard to spot without doing scans and blood tests, but here are symptoms to look our for:

    • The whites of your eyes or your skin turning yellow
    • Loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
    • Feeling fatigued
    • High temperature, or feeling hot or shivery
    • Darker urine and paler stool than usual

    According to the NHS, other symptoms which can affect your digestion due to the pancreas’s role in the process include:

    • Feeling or being sick
    • Pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you are eating or lying down and better when you lean forward
    • Symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling bloated

    If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

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    Surgery For Liver Cancer

    • Tumor removal A surgeon may remove the tumor and some of the healthy liver tissue that surrounds it.
    • Liver transplant The diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy donor liver. This procedure is available only for a select number of patients, based on many considerations, including the stage of the disease, whether the cancer has spread beyond the liver, and whether the patient has other serious health problems.

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    What Is Liver Cancer Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention

    Too many people hear the word cancer and they think it is the end, says Theodore S. Lawrence, MD, PhD, the Isadore Lampe Professor and the chair of the department of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. But we cure so many people and prolong the life of those we cant cure. Liver cancer is a tough one, no question about it, but the research we are doing is increasing the cure rate and prolonging good quality of life.

    What Are The Treatments Available

    Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer

    Early detection is the best treatment as it significantly increases the chances of survival. Any suspicious lesion should be immediately examined by a dermatologist who will then confirm the diagnosis by doing skin biopsy and looking for the presence of cancer cell under a microscope. Examination of the lesion under magnification with a dermoscope, before performing the biopsy has improved the clinical diagnosis of melanocytic lesion but does not replace the histopathology diagnosis. If melanoma is detected surgical excision of the entire lesion with surrounding normal tissue margin is usually the next first step.

  • Adjuvant Treatments

    Usually, complete surgical excision of the melanoma is the only treatment needed for people with early-stage melanomas with regular follow-up visits with a dermatologist.

    For late-stage melanomas , other treatments besides surgery may be needed. These are called âadjuvantâ treatments, and they may take the form of:

  • Chemotherapy It uses substances similar to the ones that the bodyâs immune system produces to destroy cancer cells. The two types of immunotherapy used for melanoma are interferon alpha and interleukin-2, which may be given after surgery for patients with metastatic melanoma or high risk of recurrence.
  • Radiation Therapy It uses high energy rays to kill the cancer cells. It helps shrink the tumor and relieves the symptoms. It is used for advanced disease that has spread to brain, bones, or other organs.
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    How We Care For You

    The symptoms of liver metastases are often vague and hard to identify yourself. If you have any concerns, contact your doctor. Memorial Sloan Kettering has a team of specialists who are very experienced in diagnosing and treating the condition.

    • Our goal is to provide treatment options that give you the very best possible quality of life and survival rate.
    • MSK surgeons work closely with interventional radiologists in using powerful imaging tests such as CT, ultrasound, or MRI to guide treatments directly to where your tumor is located. We can often destroy tumors with minimally invasive techniques, such as ablation and embolization.
    • Through genetic testing of tumors, we learn about the molecular blueprint of your particular cancer and customize a treatment plan for you. Another option is to combine surgery with hepatic arterial chemotherapy, which delivers the drug directly to the liver.

    We also offer a range of support programs that can help you and your loved ones manage the challenges and stress of life during and after treatment for liver cancer.

    Q How Is Liver Cancer Detected

  • There are many methods used to detect liver cancer, including many imaging studies and routine physical exams including blood tests. Several researchers are looking to find a single blood test that will help identify liver cancer much sooner. Until then, they continue to remain vigilant and screen with a variety of methods to try to detect this disease as early as possible.
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    Is Liver Cancer A Common Disease

    No, its not common, but liver cancer cases are steadily increasing. Healthcare providers estimate about 1% of all men and women in the United States will be diagnosed with a form of liver cancer during their lifetime.

    There are three kinds of primary liver cancer:

    • Hepatocellular carcinoma : This is the most common form of liver cancer, representing nearly all liver cancer cases.
    • Intrahepatic cancer : This is a form of cholangiocarcinoma. IHC is cancer in your livers bile ducts. It represents about 10% to 20% of all primary liver cancer cases.
    • Angiosarcoma: This type is very rare, representing about 1% of all primary liver cancer cases. This cancer begins in the lining of blood cells in your liver.

    Overall, HCC and IHC represent about 2% of all new estimated cancer cases in the United States, and 5% of all new cancer deaths. Healthcare providers often diagnose and treat HCC and IHC the same way.

    How Does Cancer Kill The Body

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    Cancer kills through interfering with and weakening the operation of vital organs, nerves, and blood vessels. It may start in nearly any human cell. New cells are typically formed through the processes of growth and division. When cells get too old or damaged, they die and are replaced by freshly created cells. Cancer occurs when these replacement cells become uncontrolled and invade surrounding tissues. There are three main types of cancer:

    Malignant tumors are divided into two broad categories based on how their cells look under the microscope: carcinomas and sarcomas.

    Carcinomas are named for the cancerous cells that form them. These tumors spread rapidly via the blood or lymph system to other parts of the body where they grow into large masses. Carcinomas are often treated with surgery to remove all of the tumor tissue. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be used to treat carcinomas.

    Sarcomas are named after the connective tissue that forms their base. Unlike carcinomas, which arise from ordinary skin cells, sarcomas originate in embryonic tissue that continues to develop long after birth. The term “neoplasm” is used to describe both carcinomas and sarcomas.

    The third type of cancer is hematopoietic cancers. Hematopoiesis is the process by which blood cells are created.

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    Diagnosis And Treatment Of Liver Cancer

    Liver cancer diagnosis is based on a previous medical condition. If the persisting medical condition is difficult to cure or has worsened, patients will be required to go through a few tests to diagnose liver cancer. Here are a few steps to diagnose liver cancer-

    Blood Tests- The function of the liver is established through a blood test that helps in checking the level of liver enzymes, proteins and bilirubin in the blood. The occurrence of alpha-fetoprotein in the blood confirms the presence of liver cancer. AFP is a protein that is seen in the liver of the foetus in the womb and the production of this protein stops after birth.

    Abdominal CT and MRI Scan- The imaging tests like CT and MRI Scan of the abdomen helps to get accurate images of the liver and other organs. This helps the doctor to locate the tumour easily and also helps in knowing more about the tumour such as the size and the area of infection.

    Liver Biopsy- During a liver biopsy, a small piece of tissue from the lungs is removed under general anaesthesia. This procedure can be performed in two ways –

    Through the diagnosis of liver cancer, the severity of cancer will be concluded. After the size, location and stage of the cancer are confirmed, further treatment of liver cancer is decided.

    Radiation Therapy- The cancer cells are killed using high-energy radiation beams. Radiation therapy can be conducted in two ways-

    Probable Causes Of Liver Cancer

    Liver cancer causes are related to various reasons-

    Hereditary- Most often, primary liver cancer is caused due to birth defects, a serious infection caused by a disease like Hepatitis B and C, hemochromatosis and cirrhosis. The liver is damaged excessively by diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, hemochromatosis. These damages cannot be cured.

    Alcohol Abuse- Most often people diagnosed with primary liver cancer suffer from cirrhosis – it a condition caused due to alcohol abuse.

    Obesity- Another important cause of primary liver cancer is fatty liver disease and obesity.

    Aflatoxins- Pulses and cereals are often spoilt by a substance called Aflatoxins formed from a type of plant mould. By consuming these molds, one can be affected by cancer. This is a very rare condition.

    Smoking- Smoking along with excessive drinking also increases the chances of liver cancer.

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    Living With Advanced Cancer

    Advanced cancer usually means cancer that is unlikely to be cured. Some people can live for many months or years with advanced cancer. During this time palliative care services can help.

    Most people continue to have treatment for advanced cancer as part of palliative care, as it helps manage the cancer and improve their day-to-day lives. Many people think that palliative care is for people who are dying, but palliative care is for any stage of advanced cancer. There are doctors, nurses and others who specialise in palliative care.

    Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or another type of treatment. It can help in these ways:

    • slow the growth of the cancer
    • shrink the cancer
    • help you to live more comfortably by managing symptoms, like pain.

    Treatment depends on:

    • how far it has spread
    • your general health

    Road To Recovery And Aftercare

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    The journey to fight cancer is painful and stressful. You need to keep up your spirit and fight against it. After surgery for primary liver cancer or secondary liver cancer, the hospital will follow a few post-surgery treatments before sending you home. These include-

    Drips and Drains- Post surgery, there will be pipes connected to the body to drain out postoperative fluids, bile and urine. The other pipes will carry drips to nourish the body as the patient will not be able to eat and drink for a few days.

    Pain relief- It is very common to feel pain after surgery. This pain can be controlled through painkillers. Painkillers have limited dosages and need to be taken only if necessary.

    Once discharged from the hospital, it is important to follow the home care instructions carefully for quicker and safe recovery. Some of them are –

    Physiotherapy – Moving around might get a bit difficult post-surgery. A physiotherapist can help by instructing a few exercises that can ease pain and improve breathing and walking patterns.

    Avoid Driving- Patients will be advised against driving for a few weeks by the doctor.

    Avoid Alcohol- Quitting alcohol post-liver cancer surgery is the best solution however, moderate drinking habits are allowed in a few patients.

    Nutrition– A healthy and well-balanced diet to maintain healthy weight and to stay strong and energetic.

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    What Treatments May I Be Offered

    Treatment for secondary breast cancer in the liver aims to relieve symptoms and slow down the growth of the cancer.

    Treatments can be given alone or in combination.

    When making decisions about how best to treat you, your treatment team will consider factors such as:

    • how extensive the cancer is within the liver
    • whether the cancer has spread to other organs
    • any symptoms you have
    • what treatment youve had in the past
    • the features of the cancer
    • whether youve been through the menopause
    • your general health

    Your specialist should discuss any recommendations for treatment with you and take into account your wishes. Theyll talk with you about your options, explain what the aim of your treatment will be and help you weigh up the potential benefits against the possible side effects you may have.

    Hormone therapy is used to treat breast cancers that are oestrogen receptor positive.

    If you had a biopsy or surgery for primary breast cancer, the tissue removed will have been tested to see if it is ER+. However, in some people the oestrogen receptors change during the development of secondary breast cancer. Because of this, your doctor may discuss performing a biopsy to retest for hormone receptors.

    How To Reduce Your Melanoma Risk

    Until scientists determine whats causing the rise, your best melanoma-prevention tool is you. That means: Use sun protection, know your family history, and do your own skin checks. You also need to get a professional skin exam at least once a year. Heres why:

    When it comes to melanoma, nothing beats early detection. When we catch it when its not spread at all, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent, says Dr. Ungar. Once it becomes more metastatic, that drops dramatically down to 25 percent.

    In the future, guys like Pobiner might get their own dermatoscopes, the tool dermatologists use to identify melanomas and other skin cancers. In the age of telemedicine, Dr. Markowitz and other physicians have been schooling patients in dermatoscope smartphone attachments , which take high-resolution pictures they can email to their doctors for better-quality at-home monitoring . And derms might not have to take as many biopsies, which leave patients like Pobiner with scars everywhere, thanks to a laser-imaging system called reflectance confocal microscopy. Used at some large medical centers now, its able to painlessly photograph slightly below the skins surface on the near-cellular level. It allows us to make diagnoses or risk stratification without a biopsy, says Dr. Ungar. Since its noninvasive, doctors can even examine the same spot multiple times without damaging the skin.

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