Diagnosis of liver cancer
If there is a suspicion that a patient has liver cancer, various examinations must be performed. As a rule, the doctor will first have a detailed conversation with the patient in which the patient reports on the duration and nature of his symptoms. The doctor then performs an ultrasound scan and removes blood from the patient.
Ultrasound examination and tumor markers
By an ultrasound examination, which incidentally causes no pain, the tissue structures of the liver can be accurately imaged. As a result, even small tumors can be made visible. The main purpose of the blood test is to determine the concentration of the tumor marker AFP. Tumor markers are produced in the body in response to the formation of malignant cells. However, they also occur in the body of healthy people.
If the suspicion of cancer can not be eliminated or confirmed by these methods, further investigations are necessary. Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and an X-ray of the chest allow the treating physician to gain more accurate information about the size of the tumor. Whether it is actually liver cancer, but ultimately can only be determined by a histological examination. To do this, the doctor takes a tissue sample from the liver and then examines it under the microscope (biopsy).
Liver cancer: life expectancy and chances of recovery
How good the chances of recovery are and how high the life expectancy is depends, above all, on the stage in which the liver cancer is discovered: The size and position as well as the number of tumors are decisive for the prognosis. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the better the chances of recovery. However, as liver cancer is often delayed, most liver cancers are detected at an advanced stage.
Crucial for the chances of recovery is also the question of whether it is a primary or secondary liver cancer. In the case of secondary liver cancer, life expectancy is largely dependent on how the underlying cancer progresses. If there is a primary liver cancer that can be removed by surgery, life expectancy is more than 50 percent of patients over 5 years.
However, in many cases, liver cancer has already progressed so far in the diagnosis that the chances of recovery are only slight. Especially if the cancer has already formed metastases, this significantly worsens the chances of recovery. If palliative therapy is performed under these conditions, the average life expectancy is between six and twelve months. Without such therapy, life expectancy is lower.
Prevent liver cancer
There is no safe way to prevent cancer, but you can significantly reduce your risk of developing liver cancer by preventing cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis of the liver is often caused by a hepatitis B or hepatitis C disease. While one can protect oneself against hepatitis B by a vaccine, with hepatitis C such a protection does not exist. People who have hepatitis B or C should be treated early to prevent chronic inflammation of the liver.
Diseases of the liver are also often caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. Those who drink too much alcohol significantly increase their risk of cirrhosis. Drinking little or no alcohol is therefore an effective way to protect yourself from liver cancer. If you have cirrhosis of the liver, you should have your liver checked regularly to diagnose a possible cancer at an early stage.