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  #1  
Old 02-16-2009, 07:58 AM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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How long can a person live with liver cancer?

A good friend of mine found a lump in her breast a few weeks ago. She was initially diagnosed as having T2, Stage 2 cancer. Then they did a body scan and discovered a spot on her liver. It was biopsied and discovered to be cancerous. Her cancer was downgraded to Stage IV.

I'm still reeling and can't imagine how she's feeling. I've been conditioned to hear "liver" and immediately think that there's no hope of long-term survival.
I'm really, really praying that I'm wrong.

The gameplan has been altered. She began chemotherapy this past week, but now it will be a more aggressive cocktail and she'll receive it longer than originally planned. And while we are all being as positive as we can around her, privately we are weeping buckets.

Have you ever heard of someone who has survived long term once it's metastasized to the liver? Can chemo and/or surgery ever beat liver cancer?
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  #2  
Old 02-16-2009, 11:31 AM
accidentalyuppie accidentalyuppie is offline
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Lisa, I am sorry to hear about your friend......what a horrid shock.

It sounds to me like what she has is Stage 4 (metatastic) breast cancer. This is not the same as liver cancer. When you are researching it is very important to remeber that she does not have liver cancer, she has breast cancer that has spread to the liver. This is an important distinction. As bad as the prognosis is, if it were liver cancer it would be worse.

I have seen the 5 year survival rate for stage 4 breast cancer given at 7%. There may be factors specific to her cancer than may affect this number, some hormonally responsive cancers have more treatment options and they also may be typing the cancer to assess its aggressiveness...........although it sounds fairly aggressive based on your original post.

If your friend elects to undergo chemotherapy, a small percentage of patients that have chemotherapy experience a durable remission.........this is not a cure but it means the cancer disappears for a time, possibly a long time.

The following Steven J Gould article has been popular in the cancer communities for some time now..........The Median is not the Message.
http://www.cancerguide.org/median_not_msg.html

It encourages patients not to dwell on statistical outcomes.

Hope this helps,best of luck

Last edited by accidentalyuppie; 02-16-2009 at 11:31 AM..
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  #3  
Old 02-16-2009, 12:11 PM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
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A few years ago I was on standby because my dad was having half of his (cancer infected) liver removed and if he needed a transplant it was going to come from me (I guess you can give someone half your liver and yours will grow back and the half you gave them will grow back as well. Who knew?)

Anyhow, now he's fine. Really, really fine. His original cancer was colon - it spread to his liver and then one of his lungs and a couple of lymph nodes - they just keep removing the infected bits, give him chemo and he's a-ok.

So, I don't know exactly what to say. I think generally when things have started to spread it means the prognosis is worse; however, it's not a guarenteed death sentence. Some people can get the nasty bits removed and recover well.

Good luck to your friend. One thing to tell her - my dad is as crusty and stubborn as an old boot. I think when things are at this stage you have to WILL yourself to recover.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:59 PM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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Thanks for the kind words and information. I am trying to be as positive as I can, but I have to admit that I cried like a baby when I heard that it had spread to her liver. It's good to hear that other people have gotten to Stage IV cancer and have survived. I have three other friends currently and/or recently battling breast cancer (seriously) and all of them were given very good chances of survival. I'd love to hear the words "cancer free" for my latest friend, too.
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:26 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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IANAD. It's my understanding that if cancer has been found to have metastasized to one place, it may well also be lurking undetected in another as well. That said, the liver is one organ that can regenerate itself. The mother of one of my co-workers had a huge portion of her liver removed last year to remove cancer that had metastasized from IIRC the colon. She is currently doing fine. My co-worker said most of the liver had grown back. I don't know anything else about what chemo she is having.
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:28 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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It depends on the treatability of the original site. I looked this up a few weeks ago as one of my good friend's Dad had some secondary liver cancer. Unfortunately it originated in the pancreas. He is taking chemo, but we all fear the worst: almost certain death very painfully.
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  #7  
Old 02-16-2009, 02:38 PM
DMark DMark is offline
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Not exactly the same situation, but in case anyone else is reading this thread and knows someone with a liver disease:
My SO other was diagnosed with a terminal liver disease and given 6 months to live.
We didn't like that prognosis.
Took him to another doctor who immediately sent him to a hospital and performed an operation call TIPS, which is basically a liver bypass surgery. It was originally used only as a stopgap procedure while waiting for a liver transplant, but they have since discovered it works long term as well.
Now, about 5 years later, my SO is fully healthy, back to work and feeling fine.

Never underestimate the advances of medical science, but also never underestimate the limitations of one doctor's knowledge - always get a second, or third opinion!
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  #8  
Old 02-16-2009, 03:27 PM
Neeps Neeps is offline
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I really don't know if this helps, but I was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma when I was 6 months old (primary childhood liver cancer - very rare, and very malignant). I had a huge amount of my liver removed, and am still here to tell the story. I didn't even have any chemo or radiotherapy (this was the 70s - I don't think that was standard treatment at the time).

Obviously this is not metastatic cancer that has spread to the liver, but I just wanted to give you some hope that cancer in the liver is not always a death sentance.

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I can't imagine the shock she is going through at the moment.
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  #9  
Old 02-16-2009, 05:25 PM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neeps View Post
Obviously this is not metastatic cancer that has spread to the liver, but I just wanted to give you some hope that cancer in the liver is not always a death sentance.

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I can't imagine the shock she is going through at the moment.
Thanks so much for both your kind words and the hope you've given me by being alive. Congratulations on beating the "c" word.
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  #10  
Old 02-16-2009, 06:06 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by accidentalyuppie View Post
It sounds to me like what she has is Stage 4 (metatastic) breast cancer. This is not the same as liver cancer. When you are researching it is very important to remeber that she does not have liver cancer, she has breast cancer that has spread to the liver. This is an important distinction. As bad as the prognosis is, if it were liver cancer it would be worse.
This is a very important point. Stage IV breast cancer is treated in a very different way than liver cancer is (all cancers behave differently depending on where exactly in the body they originated).
Since there is so much attention on breast cancer, there are a lot of treatment options and a lot of research being done, so people with stage IV breast cancer are living longer nowadays than they used to.
Even when cancer cannot be cured, that doesn't mean a person's life is over. A cancer may not be "curable", but still be "treatable" - and that can give the person some precious time.
A great resource for anyone living with stage IV breast cancer is the mailing list at http://www.bcmets.org There is a lot of information and support there.
All the best to your friend and everyone else out there dealing with cancer.
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  #11  
Old 02-16-2009, 07:01 PM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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That is a great site. Thanks. I'll forward it to my friend when she's receptive to help. (Currently she's in the "I don't need help!" phase.)

I'm grateful for the education on the distinction between Stage IV metastatic breast cancer and liver cancer. Because I have so many friends battling cancer, I'm become more educated every day, but this was a new one for me.
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  #12  
Old 05-26-2009, 05:44 PM
Nancarrow Nancarrow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alice_in_wonderland View Post
A few years ago I was on standby because my dad was having half of his (cancer infected) liver removed and if he needed a transplant it was going to come from me (I guess you can give someone half your liver and yours will grow back and the half you gave them will grow back as well. Who knew?)

Anyhow, now he's fine. Really, really fine. His original cancer was colon - it spread to his liver and then one of his lungs and a couple of lymph nodes - they just keep removing the infected bits, give him chemo and he's a-ok.

I was about to start a new thread detailing the woes of my grandma, but I think I'll tack it on to this thread if no-one minds, as her diagnosis seems to match alice_in_wonderland's dad's quite well.

alice, may I ask, how old is your dad? How long has he been cancer-free? Do you know exactly how many lymph nodes it spread to (if that makes a difference)?

My gran was diagnosed with colon cancer in January. She had surgery in February, and all the surgeons said how cleanly it went and how they didn't see any signs of cancer anywhere else. She had a follow-up consultation around March/April and they still said everything was a-ok. She had quite a bit of pain after the operation but that subsided. But about three weeks ago the pain came back with a vengeance. She had a CT scan last week, and today found out the cancer had spread to her liver, lungs and 30-something of the 50-something lymph nodes.

This sounds pretty disastrous to me, and I just want to know how far to get my hopes up. She'll be seeing an oncologist Thursday to recommend treatment, and I can't help thinking they'll say there's no point. The main problem is, she's 87 and we don't know how much chemo and/or surgery she could stand. The call from my mum, and then to my gran, it sounded like they'd both just given up. So, alice, if you could say your dad is in his 90s that would be sweet.

Last edited by Nancarrow; 05-26-2009 at 05:45 PM..
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  #13  
Old 05-26-2009, 06:39 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lavenderviolet View Post
Even when cancer cannot be cured, that doesn't mean a person's life is over. A cancer may not be "curable", but still be "treatable" - and that can give the person some precious time.
A great resource for anyone living with stage IV breast cancer is the mailing list at http://www.bcmets.org There is a lot of information and support there.
All the best to your friend and everyone else out there dealing with cancer.
One of my girlfriends is living through year three of Stage IV breast cancer. I don't think she hopes for a cure, but she has gotten three more years - and may yet get more.
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Old 05-26-2009, 06:58 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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The time between diagnosis of my father's liver cancer and his death was almost exactly one year.
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  #15  
Old 05-26-2009, 10:55 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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A friend of mine got liver cancer at 50. He hated how he felt after chemo. He was single and wanted to play golf and go on with life. He stopped treatment. He lived 5 years before it suddenly took him.
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  #16  
Old 05-26-2009, 11:57 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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IANA medical anything. The plural of anecdote is not data. ...

My Dad ended up with a metastases from another cancer settling in his liver and pancreas several years after the original fairly small & non-aggressive cancer problem was declared resolved.

From the first overt symptoms of something not right in his innards to dead took 6 months. The cancer essentially destroyed his liver function and that's what actually did the coup de grace.

Yes, there is a big difference between "liver cancer" and "metastatic cancer of the ___ found on the liver." But as a filter, it tends to pick up stuff floating around from elsewhere in the body. And when it does, that something often finds a hospitable site for further growth.


Modern tech is amazing; don't write your friend off yet. But the odds are probably not real good for her seeing the 5 year anniversary of the diagnosis.
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  #17  
Old 05-27-2009, 06:20 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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This is completely anecdotal experience, but:

A friend of mine was diagnosed with liver cancer three years ago. I can't remember if it was cancer OF the liver or cancer of something else that had spread to the liver. He went through a period of weight loss and started to look really bad...then gradually got better and better over the course of a year. About a year ago he got all checked out and everything and the doctor told him his cancer was getting smaller. It continued to shrink over the course of the year and last time he checked, apparently the cancer was gone. He looks and seems healthy as a bull, at this point.

He had been drinking like a motherfucker and smoking at least a pack of cigarettes a day the entire time. He didn't think that he was going to live.

Fucked up how things turn out...
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  #18  
Old 05-27-2009, 06:45 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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My mom died of colon-to-liver cancer. She was just short of her 69th birthday. I think age has a lot to do with how long you can survive, as well as what steps the doctors take to stop it. I recommend reading and getting other opinions. There are options out there, but I think the patient and family/friends should never rely on one doctor to offer them all up.
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  #19  
Old 05-27-2009, 07:42 AM
Imasquare Imasquare is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMark View Post
Took him to another doctor who immediately sent him to a hospital and performed an operation call TIPS, which is basically a liver bypass surgery. It was originally used only as a stopgap procedure while waiting for a liver transplant, but they have since discovered it works long term as well.
Now, about 5 years later, my SO is fully healthy, back to work and feeling fine.
Is there any one you can report the first doctor to?

If he hadn't sought a second opinion the original doctor could have killed your friend due to ignorance and probably has killed others.

Last edited by Imasquare; 05-27-2009 at 07:44 AM..
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