Liver cancer is the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells in the liver. Liver cancer may be primary--resulting from abnormal liver or bile-duct cells -- or it may result from the spread of cancer from another site. The most common sources are cancers of the rectum, colon, lung, breast, pancreas, esophagus, or skin (malignant melanoma). The liver and bile ducts are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Surgery to confirm the diagnosis.
Liver transplant. These are available at a few medical centers in the U.S.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSLoss of appetite and weight loss.
Tender mass in the right upper abdomen.
Pain in the upper abdomen.
Low fever, usually less than 101F (38.3C).
Yellow eyes and skin (sometimes).
Swollen abdomen from fluid retention (sometimes).
RISK FACTORSCirrhosis of the liver.
Use of anabolic steroids.
Excess alcohol consumption.
Previous hepatitis B infection.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCENo specific preventive measures.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies.
CAT or CT scan (See Glossary).
X-rays of the child's chest.
Sodium retention, leading to life-threatening fluid accumulation in the abdomen and lower body parts.
Death from loss of liver function.
This condition is currently considered incurable and fatal within a short time. However, pain can be controlled. Treatment is usually attempted, although it is not likely to be successful. Scientific research into causes and treatment continues, so there is hope for increasingly effective treatment and cure for your child.
HOME CAREThe only appropriate home care consists of keeping your child comfortable and maintaining as high a level of nutrition as possible, in consultation with your doctor.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe:
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
No restrictions. Your child should stay as active as strength allows.
DIET & FLUIDS
Low-salt diet (See Appendix 29).
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite returns and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of liver cancer, especially unexplained weight loss, low fever, or a mass in the abdomen.
Your child develops a swollen abdomen during treatment.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.