The Truth About Stage 4 Liver Cancer
The liver is the largest vital organ inside our body and its function includes the enzyme generation, energy storage, protein synthesis, blood detoxification and carcinogenic removal. The liver is necessary for the body to function properly and currently; there is no alternative to compensate for liver failure.
This organ can be found in the upper quadrant of the abdominal area just below your diaphragm. You can generally find it to the right of your stomach and it lies just above the gallbladder. A healthy liver is usually pinkish-brown in color and can weigh around three pounds.
There are a number of diseases that can affect the liver. Liver diseases are typically diagnosed after undergoing a liver function test that examines the enzymes present in the blood. The most common disorders or diseases of the liver are fatty liver, cirrhosis, hepatitis and liver cancer. Among the mentioned diseases, liver cancer is the worst and stage 4 liver cancer is far deadlier.
The Symptoms of Stage 4 Liver Cancer
Stage 4 liver cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the liver wherein the tumor are growing inside or on the surface of the organ. This is effectively detected through the use of imaging equipment like the ultrasound which often happen by accident. However, in most cases, it is the presence of symptoms that leads to the diagnosis.
Symptoms would vary depending on the disorder however; there are symptoms common to most liver diseases especially stage 4 liver cancer. These are -
- Abdominal mass
- Abdominal pain
- Anemina or lack of blood
- Back pain
- Emesis or vomiting
- Hepatomegaly or enlarged liver
- Weight loss
The Survival Rate for Stage 4 Liver Cancer
Your probability of surviving stage 4 liver cancer would greatly depend on the type of liver cancer you have.
There are several kinds of stage 4 liver cancer - hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), cholangiocarcinoma and hepatoblastoma, . The Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most popular type of cancer but is actually quite rare in the United States. It is typically a result of an initial infection from hepatitis or cirrhosis. Cholangiocarcinoma is a type of cancer that affects the bile ducts that functions in draining the bile into the small intestine. Hepatoblastoma is a rare tumor that developes in young children.
There are also several different types of stage 4 liver cancer. Primary liver cancer is the type of cancer that developed originally in the liver before transforming into malignant tumors. In this instance, patients have a cause to be cautiously optimistic on the stage 4 liver cancer survival rate. Secondary liver cancer ,or liver metastases, is a type of cancer that originated elsewhere in the body and spread into the liver. The general outlook for patient falling into this category is bleak and chances of surviving stage 4 liver cancer is slim because the patient will need to combat cancer in more than one area.
Another factor that affect the survival from stage 4 liver cancer is the current state or development of the cancerous cells. Stage 1 liver cancer is the earliest stage of cancer wherein only one malignant tumor is detected and has not spread to nearby blood vessels. Stage 2 liver cancer is when there maybe one or more tumors present but are no bigger than 5 cm and there is the possibility of affecting the blood vessels. Stage 3 liver cancer is further categorized into Stage 3-A, Stage 3-B and Stage 3-C. Stage 3-A liver cancer has at least one tumor bigger than 5 cm and at least one has spread into the blood vessels. Stage 3-B liver cancer vary in sizes and may have spread to the gallbladder and damaged the peritoneal area. Stage 3-C is one where the cancer has scattered to the lymph nodes. Stage 4 liver cancer is when it has already spread to the different parts of the body. The lungs and bones are the most common parts typically affected during a stage 4 liver cancer.
The survival rate refers to the number of people who were able to survive after diagnosis for a certain amount of time. The current 5-year survival rate for individuals with stage 4 liver cancer is roughly 14 percent however; there are also several factors like the patient’s over-all health, that affect the survival rate.
If the patient was able to successfully remove the cancerous liver, the stage 4 liver cancer survival rate jumps up to 75 percent within a year from diagnosis and decreases to 50 percent if removed within 3 years from detection and further down to 30 percent after 5 years from the initial diagnosis of stage 4 liver cancer.
Treatment of Stage 4 Liver Cancer
Aside from surgery, a patient undergoing stage 4 liver cancer has several other treatment options like -
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
- Hormonal Therapy
- Angiogenesis Inhibitors
- Experimental Treatments like Ultrasound Energy and Exosomes
Causes and Prevention of Stage 4 Liver Cancer
The common causes of stage 4 liver cancer is Hepatitis C and chronic Hepatitis B infection. Alcoholism, on the other hand, is a common reason for cirrhosis that can sometimes lead to stage 4 liver cancer. Studies also show that deficiency in L-carnitine has been linked to increased risk of stage 4 liver cancer as well. Liver damages can also be brought about by birth defects and too much iron in the liver.
Carcinogens are also associated with stage 4 liver cancer like pesticides and herbicides. Chemicals like chloride and arsenic are also found to increase your risk as well as alcohol abuse. Research also implicates certain hormones like androgen and estrogen to also increase the risk for stage 4 liver cancer along with the dye, thorotrast, which are used in medical imaging.
Studies also identified key risks that may increase your likelihood of developing stage 4 liver cancer.
- Men are more at risk to develop Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
- Obesity will also increase your risk for HCC.
- Asians-Americans and Pacific Islanders are found to be more at risk than any other race.
- Long-term anabolic steroid use by athletes will also increase the risk.
- Research found a potential direct correlation between liver cancer and illness such as diabetes, Wilson’s disease and other rare diseases.
- Genetic metabolic disease are also found to increase your risk.
The key is early detection if you want to increase your chances of surviving stage 4 liver cancer.