Every year roughly 700,000 people are killed by liver cancer. The mortality rate for this type of cancer is very high. Unfortunately, the symptoms of liver cancer can and often are mistaken for conditions that are less serious. If this condition is not diagnosed properly in a timely manner, the patients are left to suffer painful and possibly even fatal setbacks.
Symptoms of Liver Cancer
Many of the early symptoms of liver cancer are associated with the flu and other minor aches and pains. These symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Anemia (decrease in red blood cells)
- Back pain
- Hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes)
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
Liver cancer is usually discovered through the use of medical imaging equipment or is evidenced through the symptoms. If liver cancer is suspected, blood tests are performed for the purpose of diagnosing and monitoring the cancer. The tests used measure levels of certain proteins and enzymes that indicate normal liver functioning.
Other types of testing include:
- CT scan or MRI for identification of a tumor and pinpoint its size and location
- Endoscopy to see inside the esophagus, stomach, and lower intestine
- ERCP (a fiberoptic endoscope to insert dye into the bile ducts for X-rays)
- Liver biopsy to remove tissue form the liver for examination
- PTC (a thin needle through the skin and bile ducts to insert X-ray dye)
- Ultrasound to see the tumor
Misdiagnosing Liver Cancer
Whether liver cancer is immediately diagnosed and treated can be the difference between life and death as this type of cancer can metastasize quickly. The more metastases that are present the more difficult removal becomes. This is why it is important that liver cancer be diagnosed quickly. However, liver cancer can be mistaken for:
- Alveolar hydatiddisease
- Fatty liver
- Hepatic hemangioma
- Liver abscess
- Mosses syndrome
- Pancreatic cancer
Once diagnosed, the treatment options include:
- Liver transplantation
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of liver cancer, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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