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Liver Cancer - how bad?

(14 Posts)
NewbeeMummy Fri 13-May-11 10:44:17

Hi all,

My mum was recently diagnosed with Bowel cancer which they sucessfully removed, but the discovered some spots on her liver during the op. They have since done a scan and found that her liver is inoperable - there is too much cancer, and they're going to start her on Chemo in the next couple of weeks.

I need some ideas on how bad this actually is - the doctors are fairly non commital and are saying that on average a person will get 2 years with this treatment, but that's just an average figure.

I'm a bit all over the place so I do apologise if this doesn't make any sense, but if anyone has any experiance fo dealing with this - either a doctor of a family member that's been through this I would really love to know what we're about to be going through, for me, and so I can support my mum as best I can.

Thanks

DeWe Fri 13-May-11 11:11:59

Sending (((hugs)))
I'm not medical based, but I know liver cancer is considered bad news. I think this is partually because it tends to be later diagnosis.
Roughly (I think this is about average statistics) out of the people diagnosed with it 1 person out of every 5 will still be alive one year after diagnosis (20%). Then 5%, which is 1 person out of every 20 will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.
They may have discovered the liver cancer early due to the op. which would give her a better chance. The question would also be whether it has spread anywhere else.
Cancer Research has a fairly comprehensive site which I've looked at in the past. I've just looked and there's a area on liver cancer. Website address is:
www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/liver-cancer/
If you're a person who reads all about it (like my dh) then you may find this useful. If you're like me and scare easily I don't find that sort of thing does anything but upset me.

mrsravelstein Fri 13-May-11 11:18:20

I'm so sorry about your mum.

Slightly hesitant to say this as I'm also not medical, but my understanding is also that once it spreads to the liver that is pretty much it. My very dear FIL was diagnosed with bowel cancer 2 years ago, the doctors said he might live for 18 months. He had a course of chemo and had a few very good months in which we had lots of good times with him, but it had spread to his liver within 9 months and he died very soon after that. Sorry to be so blunt, I hope things work out well for your mum.

drivinmecrazy Fri 13-May-11 11:27:20

Such sad news. My Dad had secondary liver cancer, but made it to almost 5 years. Absolutely invaluable time. We made many very happy memories for his Grandchildren, and the extra time was a real gift. His journey was very tough at times, and he spent most of that time having chemo, but I do know that he never for one moment considered giving up despite the toll the chemo took. It was a case of chasing the cancer around his body until it finally ended up in his spine and they couldn't fight it any more.
I think you will be amazed by the strength you find in your self, I remember the initial diagnosis and thinking that there was no way I had the strength to go through this (very selfish thoughts) but we did cope, and in many ways his last few years were the best we had with him. memories are sharper because we knew that time was limited, I just wish I had spent more time with him before he had the cancer.

AMumInScotland Fri 13-May-11 11:29:18

If you do want to read up then make sure you go to sensible sites like this one and don't just google things, as there are a lot of odd sites out there claiming to be helpful but not giving good advice.

And make sure you look at items about bowel cancer, not liver cancer, as it is bowel cancer cells which have travelled to her liver, and the treatment for that will be different from if it had started in the liver in the first place.

I'm in a similar situation, as my dad had an op to remove bowel cancer a year ago, and has now had chemo for secondaries in his liver and lungs.

I wish I could say it'll all be fine, but in all honesty it's not something that she is going to get better from. But with treatment she may still have several years with good quality of life, so its not all doom and gloom. Chemo can be unpleasant, and she'll need your support, but it can hold the cancer at bay and help give her longer and better quality of life.

The docs will never be able to give timescales, as its a matter of averages - but if they say typically 2 years, then that's what is likely for the majority of patients. Some may get quite a bit longer, it just depends how she responds to the treatment.

Blackduck Fri 13-May-11 11:30:29

My best friend has been through breast cancer, and now has it in the liver. She has been told 18 months at the absolute best, but it is likely to be a lot less than that. She is having chemo too (after radiation). It is crap.

NorbertDentressangle Fri 13-May-11 11:41:17

I'm sorry about your mum Newbee and that you are all going through this.

Like others have said liver cancer can be a particularly nasty cancer (not that theres a 'good' one but YKWIM).

My Dad unfortunately wasn't diagnosed with liver cancer until it was very, very advanced. It was way, way beyond any treatment. He only lived for 2 weeks after his diagnosis.

However, in your Mums case I would say that, on a positive note, they have discovered it (hopefully early) and that they are starting her on chemo. That, to me, suggests that they think/hope that they may be able to treat her enough to enable her to carry on for a while longer.

Obviously that is the bit that nobody can give you a definitive time scale for.

ThingOne Fri 13-May-11 12:05:38

Sorry to hear about your mum.

I had liver secondaries removed three years ago and I am now well. But mine were operable. Small, and in the right place. I take nothing for granted but I am rather planning on being the person who survives. My quality of life is normal.

I agree it is important to look at information from the point of view of bowel cancer with liver mets rather than liver cancer.

NewbeeMummy Fri 13-May-11 12:27:11

Thanks everyone for the responses and support, I'll have a look at the sites you've recommended, I'd rather know more about it and know what we're likely to be going through for the next (hopefully) few years.

I'm gutted that I wasn't there for the appointment as I couldn't get off work, but my sister was at least with her when she found out.

I think we're going to have to just enjoy every day and make the most of it, I wish DD was a bit older so there was more chance of her remembering my mum, but hopefully my mum will be the tough old bird (said very much in an affectionate way) that she has always been and will be one of the ones who gets to the 5 year mark.

So messed up, going between non stop tears and bouts of being absolutely furious at her, she was sent a bowel cancer screening test before Xmas and ignored it, she was admitted to hospital with a blockage a month ago which was a massive cancerous growth.

As one of you mentioned, I just don't feel I have the strength to deal with this, I know it's selfish, but I feel so helpless and scared. SHe's always been such a massive positive part of my life that I cannot begin what I would do without her.

Thank you again for all your responses and support - and sorry for rambling, I just need to get it out as I don't have much of an outlet at the moment.

Blackduck Fri 13-May-11 13:35:10

I need to phone my friend and I just can't - I know I am going to blub and that's not good for her or me. But need to get some backbone and make the call.

MollieO Fri 13-May-11 13:43:25

So sorry to hear about your mum. My dad had secondary liver cancer. It was inoperable and he wasn't offered chemo (can't remember why not). He survived 6 months. We were told because he was older (67) the cancer was likely to spread slowly and he was likely to survive for five years. I hope your mum's outcome is better than that.

callow Fri 13-May-11 20:42:16

Although you are cross at your Mum about the bowel cancer screening test it would not have made a difference. Between getting the test kit and having a colonoscopy it would have been between 2 and 4 months. If the cancer had been diagnosed from the screening she would only be 1- 2 months ahead in her treatment not enough to make any difference with an advanced cancer.

I wish you and your mum all the best.

triplets Sat 14-May-11 23:09:58

It would not have made any diff taking the test, it was there already and had spread. Like others have said your mum has secondaries on her liver, atm inoperable. I have become something of an expert on this as my dh was diagnosed with bowel cancer over three years ago, then an emergency ct scan showed it has already spread to his liver, stage 4.He underwent two years of chemo, scans, lots of set backs etc, then finally got 6 months all clear. Then a year last Jan it was back, in his liver and new spread to his lung, we were devastated. He then was offered a trial drug for 6 months, that shrank the tumours in his liver and lung and was able then to have them surgically removed. That was in Jan this year. His next ct is in June, its scary........................but over 3 years later he looks a picture of health with bags of energy, there are no rules, no promises, we just take it as it comes. I pray your Mum will cope and be here for a very long time. xx

CPR1950 Wed 14-Sep-16 23:16:43

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