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When a person has late stage liver cancer, this means the cancerous cells have spread beyond the liver to other parts of the body. This is a very serious diagnosis, as this stage of liver cancer is more difficult to treat than early stages. In many cases, a person with this stage of cancer needs aggressive treatment, and some may even need a transplant. For many people with this stage of liver cancer, the disease proves fatal.
There are various stages of liver cancer with which a doctor may diagnose a patient. It is usually desirable to make a diagnosis when the cancer is in an earlier stage. During the earliest stages of this disease, the cancer is at its most treatable, and the patient has the most desirable prognosis. As the cancer progresses, it affects more of a patient's body and his chances of survival are dramatically diminished. By the time a person is diagnosed with late stage cancer, other organs are often involved, and successful treatment is less likely.
A patient can experience many different symptoms when he has late stage liver cancer. They include pain in the right side of the abdomen and a general feeling of being unwell. Patients may also experience loss of appetite and weight, and many develop jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and eyes. In many cases, a person with late stage liver cancer will also experience other symptoms due to effects of the treatment they receive or in conjunction with the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. Scarring of the liver may also lead to such symptoms as mental confusion, kidney problems, swelling in the legs, and gastrointestinal difficulties.
The treatments used for late stage liver cancer depend on the recommendations of a patient's doctor, which typically depend on the patient's unique prognosis and his overall health status aside from the cancer. Surgery to remove the diseased liver and replace it with a healthy liver is one option for some patients. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatments aimed at destroying cancer cells are often used as well. When the patient is considered terminal, treatment may instead focus on keeping the patient comfortable for the rest of his life.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to pinpoint one cause of liver cancer, but there are some things that make its development more likely. For example, a person may face a higher risk of developing this disease if he has chronic hepatitis infection or a lot of liver scarring. In many cases, however, doctors are unable to pinpoint the cause.