Liver Cancer

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Liver cancer is cancer that begins in your liver. Liver cancer can affect the ability of your liver to remove harmful material from your blood. It can also reduce the ability of your liver to help digest food, and store vitamins and minerals. The two most common types of liver cancer are hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Liver cancer decreases the ability of your liver to work correctly, and may lead to liver failure. Even with treatment, the cancer may spread to other organs and cause other health problems. The cancer and the treatments increase your risk for bleeding or an infection.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Intake and output:

Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your urine.

Daily weight:

Healthcare providers will weigh you each day. They compare your weight from day to day to make sure you are not retaining or losing too much fluid.

Nutrition:

A dietitian may work with you to help you get enough calories, vitamins, and minerals. This may help you feel better and improve energy levels.

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

  • Diuretics are given to decrease swelling caused by fluid buildup. This occurs when your liver stops working correctly. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.

Tests:

  • Blood tests can show signs of liver cancer and check the function of your liver.

  • An ultrasound, CT, or MRI may show the location and size of the tumor. You may be given contrast dye to help the tumor and blood vessels show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • A biopsy is a procedure to remove a small piece of tissue from your liver. Your healthcare provider will insert a needle through your skin and into your liver. The tissue sample will be sent to a lab to be tested for cancer.

  • Cholangiography is a procedure to see the tumor. It may also be done to open your bile duct if the tumor is blocking it.

Treatment:

  • Surgery is done to remove tumors that are small and have not spread to other parts of the body.

  • Medicines may be used to reduce the size of the tumor. Medicine may also be used to reduce blood flow to the tumor or kill cancer cells.

  • Ablation or embolization is done to directly treat the tumor or reduce blood flow to the tumor. These procedures involve using radio waves, lasers, or light, or injecting medicine near the tumor.

  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays or gamma rays to treat cancer. Radiation kills cancer cells and may stop the cancer from spreading. It may also be used to shrink the tumor and decrease pain.

  • A liver transplant is surgery to replace your damaged liver with a donor liver.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Liver Cancer (Inpatient Care)

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