Liver cancer is a complicated disease that usually affects multiple organs in the body as well as the quality and length of a patient's life. However, coordinated care by a multidisciplinary team of clinician-researchers with experience and expertise in treating this kind of cancer and its related symptoms can help ensure quality of life for longer periods than have been possible in the past.
Because cancer of the liver is difficult to control, regular follow-up care after the initial course of treatment — including periodic imaging, liver function evaluations, and blood tests — is very important. You should never hesitate to let members of your cancer care team know about pain or any symptoms, changes, or problems that occur after treatment.
For many patients with liver cancer, control of symptoms is just as important as treatment aimed at controlling the disease. When the tumor is too widespread to be removed, palliative surgery may help prevent blockage of bile ducts and relieve symptoms such as jaundice, itching of the skin, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
Hepatitis Treatment and Liver Cancer Surveillance
Some patients with liver cancer have chronic hepatitis B or C. These viruses cause chronic inflammation and scarring in the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis B and C can be controlled with antiviral medications. Treatment with antiviral medications is often recommended in combination with treatment for liver cancer.
There is a high incidence of recurrence with liver cancer, even after successful treatment. Patients who have been treated for liver cancer should see their surgeon, oncologist, or other doctors for regular surveillance with imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT, or MRI to determine whether the cancer has returned.
Some patients with liver cancer need pain-management care during the course of their treatment. Effective pain management can be key to effective therapy. Our interdisciplinary Pain and Palliative Care Service ensures that patients who have pain are identified and treated appropriately and effectively. Our Integrative Medicine Service extends this tradition by offering access to the best of complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and hypnotherapy.
No specific dietary recommendations are suggested for patients with liver cancer, but doctors encourage patients to eat a balanced diet and limit salt intake. Patients should minimize or eliminate alcohol use and avoid intensive treatment with herbal remedies.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Resources for Life After Cancer program provides ongoing access to nutritional information and other quality-of-life support. Our Integrative Medicine Service offers nutritional counseling within the context of a broad spectrum of healing regimens that address the mind, body, and spirit.
Access Information through our Patient Portal
Memorial Sloan-Kettering offers a secure Web site — called MYMSKCC — for patients to access personalized information about their care. If you enroll to use MYMSKCC, you can view, confirm, and keep track of appointments; access over 300 lab results; make changes to contact and insurance information; communicate with your healthcare team and other staff using secure electronic messages; and pay bills and view balances. Learn more about MYMSKCC.
To enroll in MYMSKCC, please ask a session assistant in clinic or contact your physician's office.