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Cancer

Liver Cancer--the final stage

06/04/2007

Question:

I have questions regarding the condition of a person in stage IV of Liver CA. What is the average life span for someone in that stage? I am hearing from others that the quality of life is fairly good up until shortly before death (i.e., 2-3 weeks of really bad symptoms and then they expire).

What should we expect (what will we begin to see/symptoms)as we care for a parent in this phase of the disease?

Answer:

It depends on many factors. For example is the liver cancer the result of a primary tumor or is the liver cancer actually metastatic liver cancer in which the cancer actually started initially in another organ and then spread to the liver? The clinical picture of the patient also depends on whether they have underlying cirrhosis or scarring of the liver because there is little extra reserve of the liver and such patients can have bleeding, infections, kidney failure and can become confused more quickly than someone who has an isolated tumor but otherwise the other liver cells are relatively normal.

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Response by:

Julia Gore Thornton, MD Julia Gore Thornton, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University