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Cancer

Please help..info on Liver Cancer..please

10/24/2007

Question:

My father has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer. The cancer started in the liver and spread to many other parts of his body. His upper and lower intestines, his esophagus, and one lung. He also 2 small tumors in his head that are not cancerous. The tumor in his liver is very large and surgery is not an option. Surgery is not an option for any of them apparently, because it is not being done. He is presently receiving radiation for what I was told was to shrink or get rid of the tumors in his head. After 2 weeks of that, he will be receiving chemo for everything else. My parents got divorced when I was very young, and my father since then has had mental problems. Because of all this, he lives with his sister who will not give me all the information that she knows. I am sure by this point she has had some kind of time line, or at least more information that she with holds from me for "my own protection". She still thinks of me as a child. I am 23 now. All I want is more information on what is going on and a projected timeline so I could spend as much time with him as possible. I live 12 hours away now, and have my own family to take care of. Any input from anyone who knows anything is greatly appreciated. I thank you in advance.

Answer:

I am sorry to learn of this. I realize that you have given us as much information as you likely know, but unfortunately it is not enough for me to tell you everything you want.

The situation you describe does not sound like a primary liver cancer. That is, one which first started in the liver. Liver cancer (also called hepatocellular carcinoma) oftentimes does not spread to all the organs you mention. Perhaps your dad has a metastatic colon cancer, which spread to the liver as well as other structures.

Nonetheless, as you likely surmise, the situation appears grave. You should ask to speak to his cancer doctor (oncologist) or other doc directly taking care of him. Based upon what you tell here, I would spend as much time with your dad as your could. Without much more information, I could not even take a bad guess as to timeline. Perhaps even the docs taking care of him could not give you a definitive timeline. Regardless, with as many organs involved as you state, things would appear quite advanced, insofar as the cancer. I would make it a priority to visit with him frequently.

Best to you.

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Response by:

Steven  M Rudich, MD, PhD, FACS Steven M Rudich, MD, PhD, FACS
Formerly
Professor of Surgery, Director of Liver Transplat and Hepatobiliary Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati