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Chris Woolmams
Liver Cancer - symptoms, treatments and therapies

This liver cancer overview and associated articles will give you everything you need to know to help you increase your personal odds of beating liver cancer - the symptoms, the diagnosis and all the latest options on treatments and therapies - from cancer drugs and chemotherapy to surgery, radiotherapy and complementary therapies; including all the very latest alternative and new therapies and information. We will even cover the causes.

This article has been compiled by  Chris Woollams from worldwide research and expert sources*

Read the whole article below or just select the part(s) that you are interested in from the list below and click onto that piece.

The CANCERactive Difference: Intelligent Information. Independent Voice. On this web site you will find more information about more treatment options (Complementary and Alternative, not just Orthodox), and on more possible contributory factors to the development and maintenance of your cancer, than on any other UK cancer web site. Some experts believe that approaching your cancer in this total way can increase an individuals chances of survival by as much as 60 per cent.
The very latest research evidence from all over the world in our news section Cancer Watch supports all this.  
We can do this because we are not hide-bound by vested interests, and so we can always put people first. We are not influenced by companies who seek to make financial gains from patients, we have no trustees working for, or sponsored directly or indirectly by such companies, our directors take no remuneration at all. This is our true independence, from which you benefit directly. 
But this comes at a price we rely on you, and people like you to support our work. 47,703 people visited our site in March 2007, viewing 11 pages on average. Every month we add 20 new pages to this site. If you feel an independent voice is essential in cancer, please, please help by making a donation. Every little helps.

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liver1The Liver


The liver is the largest organ in the body and is located above your stomach and under your diaphragm.  It is the size of a football. Its primary role is that of detoxification, although it also helps formulate certain proteins and vitamins.

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Its role in detoxification is enormous as it constantly filters the blood removing chemicals, toxins, alcohol, dead cells, bacteria, waste products and much more. 

If the liver´s function is impaired, the whole immune system is weakened.

The liver processes most of the nutrients from your food and regulates how much protein, fat and glucose/sugar circulate in your blood stream. In particular it regulates the fuel passing to your cells.

Cancer cells make their energy differently from normal cells, and cannot use either the sugar form of fuel produced by the liver, or oxygen. However they are clever and produce a waste product which is a form of lactic acid the liver detoxifies this. But in so doing it produces glucose, their favourite food which then recycles to feed the cancer cell but more of that elsewhere!!

Waste materials generally pass from the liver via bile ducts into the intestine from where they are eliminated from the body.


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Liver regeneration


The liver is an amazingly resilient organ.  It can still function even when only a small portion is still working.  It can repair itself, sometimes in less than three months.  It can even re-grow.  In instances where a liver has had two thirds removed, the remaining portion has been known to grow back again to full size in less than 12 weeks!

A vital mineral is magnesium; unfortunately research confirms 40 per cent of Britons and Americans are deficient in this mineral.  Certain B vitamins, for example choline and inositol (both found in soya lecithin), will also help the health of the liver as will herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion and black radish.

Boldo tea will help strengthen the elimination of bile and thus toxins.  As will coffee enemas (see Gerson Therapy  ), which help dilate the bile ducts, allowing more waste to pass out. (NB. Drinking the coffee does not have this benefit).

Vitamin K  has been shown to be extremely important in the health of the liver.  Research from Washington and Tokyo has shown that vitamin K can stop some liver cancers in their tracks. Vitamin K is produced in the intestine from the action of beneficial bacteria on ´greens´.  It cannot be released without the presence of beneficial bacteria.  Researcher studying the effects of vitamin K used supplementation of at least 5 times the RDA 6 out of 30 subjects saw their liver cancer stop.


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Clearing liver blockage


liver3Yeasts, parasites and microbes are much more common infections in the Western World than people believe.  Certain US experts believe 70 per cent of adults can be infected.

Dead cells from such parasites can form the centre of gallstones, when cholesterol ´wraps´ around them rather like the formation of pearls from a grain of sand in an oyster.  Gallstones are usually only the size of a grain of sand but it is not uncommon for someone to have 3000 to 5000 of such grains, blocking the bile ducts and the healthy and full elimination of toxins.  It is very likely that all cancer patients have such gallstones blocking the perfect excretion of toxins, inhibiting a clean liver and impairing the whole immune system.

Everything You Need To Know To Help You Beat CancerThe solution is simple:  A liver flush, using Epsom salts, olive oil and a fruit juice.  You can read more about this very effective ´cleanser´ by clicking the link.  Epsom Salts a spoonful mixed in warm water before going to bed at night was an old-fashioned remedy for ´constipation´. It dilates the bile ducts and aids excretion. And it is magnesium based. We have a lot of information on cleansing the blood, lymph and liver and restoring the immune system in ´Everything you need to Know to help you beat Cancer´  .


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Liver Cancer


Above we have listed many of the risk factors and possible causes.  The above paragraphs also show how easily a toxic liver can form from a combination of parasite action, cholesterol, gallstones, chemical toxins, dead cells, chemotherapy, lactic acid etc.

I hope they also show you show how you can take simple steps using a flush, plus minerals, vitamins and herbs to strengthen your liver in the first instance.

Liver damage is a problem of our modern world and new factors such as some chemicals and pesticides. GM Maize has been linked to toxicity in studies on rats (Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology; Jan 2007); and a similar study in Russia showed liver damage in rats fed GM potatoes (The Independent Feb 17 2007). Who knows for sure? 

Smoking and excess alcohol consumption increase risks, as does poor sugar control and diabetes. Liver cancer is a very dangerous disease with a poor prognosis.


There are two ´forms´ of liver cancer: 


Primary Liver Cancer -


Where the liver is the origin, the source of the cancer.  It may be found in the cells of the liver (hepatoma) or it may start in the bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma).

There are four types of primary liver cancer:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma: most common form, which begins in the liver cells
  • Cholangiocarcinoma: begins in the small bile ducts
  • Hepatoblastoma: most common in Children under four with a high success/cure rate
  • Angiosarcoma: begins in blood vessels

Previous infection with either hepatitis B or C virus can cause this disease, as can cirrhosis of the liver (the result of heavy, continuous drinking and/or infection). Although extremely rare in the UK and USA, it is quite common in the tropics, particularly Africa and Asia, affecting men far more than women. But it is growing quite rapidly in the West.

Of increasing concern is a carcinogen called aflatoxin. Aflactoxin is produced by moulds and commonly found in stored grain, nuts and rice.  Concern over the possibility of increased levels of aflatoxins in the European ´grain´ mountain has increased in recent years. 

Liver fluke, still common in Africa and Asia can also cause primary liver cancer.  Increasingly, there are fears over pesticides and especially certain prescription drugs as possible risk factors.  One case concerned a 78-year old woman who was taking 14 different drugs, for a variety of ailments whilst individual drugs may have undergone clinical trials, such cocktails have never been tested for the damage they can do to organs such as the liver. Properly prescribed prescription drugs are now the second largest cause of death in the USA after heart disease and ahead of road accidents and cancer.(Healthworld online). Dr Stern at the Presbyterian Hospital, New York talks of a new disease, Polypharmacy: illness due to cocktails of drugs. 


Secondary  Liver Cancer


While primary liver cancer is far from common in the UK, unfortunately a number of cancers, for example breast, colon, ovarian, womb and others can send out rogue cells via the blood and/or lymph system.  These can collect in the liver, which is trying to detoxify and eliminate them, and cause a secondary cancer.  It is important to understand that cancer is a disease of the whole body.  Primarily it has appeared in a location such as the colon or breast.  But when secondary growths have created further cancer centres in the liver, patients should realise that they have a ´total body problem´ and they should be looking to strengthen and clean up their whole body, starting with boosting the immune system and clearing away toxins, before planning to take specific action.  Readers might do well to read the 4 Pillars of Cancer  and study our complementary therapies section where the majority of exponents, for example GersonPlaskettGonzalez   understand this and have built full treatment programmes that attempt to return the body as a whole to its healthy functioning state, whilst at the same time trying to reduce toxins.

Cancer - Your First 15 StepsCertainly people with liver cancer would benefit by trying to adopt an integrated package of therapies try reading our article  ´Cancer your first 15 steps´  , which covers everything from diet to supplements, parasites to prayer. It is also available as a small but very useful book.

Liver damage may also be caused by some cancer treatments themselves. The Gastro-Intestinal Cancer Symposium in Orlando (Jan 19th 2007) heard how oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy was said to cause liver damage to colorectal cancer patients who already had liver metastases. Damage rose from 11 per cent to 41 per cent in patients where the drug was taken post surgery.

In Secondary liver cancer, you are more likely to hear, for example, that ´this is colon cancer that has spread to the liver´. And that is the correct way of looking at this secondary disease.


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Symptoms


Primary liver cancer is associated with lethargy, weight loss, nausea, a swollen liver, a pain in the abdomen and even the right shoulder (due to the liver pushing against certain nerves).

Jaundice (the skin and eyes taking a yellow hue) may be observed if bile ducts become blocked, and the skin may become very itchy.  Sometimes people shiver when it is not cold, develop a temperature and their urine becomes dark.

Sometimes fluids build up in the abdomen (this is called Ascites) due to poorer fluid control by the liver, blockages in the lymphatic system or simply the presence of ´irritating´ cancer cells.  The fluid can be drained off through a tune inserted in the abdomen wall.

Problems with Liver Cancer can include Liver Failure, spread to the lungs or bones, and kidney failure.


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Screening


If you are in an at risk category (for example, having been affected by Hepatitis B) you can be screened although there is little evidence that this is preventative at all. Screening involves one or more of CT or MRI scans, Ultrasound and/or Blood tests for a protein called AFP and even biopsies.


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Diagnosis


Your doctor will be able to ´feel´ for a distended liver, and he will send you for tests called scans.

  • Ultrasound - where a gel is used on your tummy, then a (why is it always so cold?) metal rod is simply passed over the top. Harmless sound waves then bounce off internal organs and, via a computer, images show on a nearby TV screen. Ultrasound may also be used in the process of taking a small amount of tissue using a long needle this is called a biopsy.
  • liver2CT scan where a number of X-rays are taken to build up a 3D computer picture of whole areas of the body. It will take as long as it takes to complete up to 30 X-rays ie about 30 minutes. You may be given an injection of a substance which allows the X-rays to be clearer; and your doctor should discuss allergies, asthma and iodine concerns with you before hand. CT scans may also be used when conducting biopsies. (NB: Too many CT scans should be avoided where possible. Research from Columbia University (icon Vol 3 Issue 4) calculated that the radiation produced from an annual CT scan risks a 1 in 50 chance of death. ´The risks of a full body scan are reasonably well quantified´ says Dr David Brenner)
  • MRI scan - similar to a CT scan, this uses magnetism rather than X-rays. You may be given an injection of a dye to allow more clarity in the images. You will be asked to lie still after sliding into a horizontal chamber. Some people find this very claustrophobic, especially as the tests can last for anything up to an hour. No metal objects (necklaces, pacemakers, metal plates from former operations) are allowed.

If the doctor wants to look at whether the cancer might have spread from your liver to adjacent organs he may perform a laparoscopy where, under anaesthetic (you, not him), he will make a small cut in your abdomen and insert a tube on which is a camera connected to a TV screen.  At the same time he may take samples of tissue called a biopsy, using a long needle.  However, there have been several articles in medical publications covering concerns that such biopsies may actually spread the cancer.  You should ask.

If the doctor fears that the cancer is affecting blood vessels around the liver he may chose to give you an Angiogram, where a dye is injected into your blood stream via a tube inserted, after local anaesthetic, into your groin.  X- rays or an MRI scan are done about 20-30 minutes later and show the liver´s blood vessels in detail.


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Stage and Grade


Stage measures the ´spread´ of the cancer; Grade measures the ´aggressivity´. Grade is rarely used with liver cancer as all such cancers are usually aggressive.

Stage 1 means the cancer is confined, often no bigger than 2 cms.

Stage 2 means there is more than one tumour, and it may be affecting blood vessels.

Stage 3 means that it has spread; to blood vessels or nearby organs.  It may have spread to lymph nodes nearby.

Stage 4 means it has spread to distant organs most usually the brain.


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Treatment


There are four options.

Surgery, where the diseased parts are cut out.  Obviously, this is only appropriate if the cancer is confined to the liver, ideally as a single tumour.  The reduced-size liver will regrow to normal size very quickly.

Ultrasound,  We have covered this in great detail in our prostate cancer section. Ultrasound, often involving hyperthermia, was until very recently frequently ridiculed by some corners of the orthodox medical world in the UK.  However it works. It kills the cancer cells (literally liquidising them away) but can only really be used where the tumour is confined to the liver in a solid tumour state. Ultrasound has the advantage that it can be repeated if necessary, and involves far less patient stress the operation is quicker and less invasive.  Ultrasound may be used at frequencies which cause the simultaneous ´heating´ of the cancer cells and this results in cancer cell death.  Officially you may hear this described as Ablation.  CANCERactive have long argued for its adoption in the UK, where we have lagged more than 5 years behind mainland Europe and Japan.

Alcohol Injections: In the USA alcohol is sometimes injected directly into the liver cancer cells causing them to dry out and die.

Liver transplants: In certain cases where there is no spread beyond the liver a full liver transplant may be considered.

Radiation: Radiotherapy is rarely used there is far too much likelihood of the beam hitting, and hurting, other organs.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is used in a number of ways. For example, it may be used directly in an artery to the liver, supposedly to get more of the drug to the cancer and restrict side effects. Alternatively it may be used generally, especially if there is further spread from the liver. Chemotherapy is not a cure, and has not proven terribly effective. One new drug, sorafenib, a monoclonal antibody, is supposedly more targeted to stop the formation of blood vessels. The jury is out. For information on your Cancer Drugs and chemotherapy click here.



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General


As we have stressed in this article, most usually a liver cancer is associated with a toxic body, one where there is the appearance of cancer already in another location.

It is imperative, even where orthodox medical treatments have been used ´successfully´, to understand that reoccurrence is likely if steps are not taken to clean up the body for example:

  1. Kill off possible parasites and yeast infections
  2. Flush out gallstone blockages.
  3. Ensure adequate supplies of minerals (especially magnesium) and vitamins (especially K).
  4. Strengthen the liver with the herbs mentioned above.
  5. Bind and eliminate heavy metals and certain toxins with selenium  and chlorella  supplementation.
  6. ProbioticEnsure adequate daily intake of beneficial bacteria,
  7. Avoid chemicals, pesticides, synthetic hormones, painkillers, alcohol, coffee and smoking.
  8. Reduce fat, especially cholesterol intake.
  9. Eat a nourishing diet (see a diet for chemotherapy  or read our book on anti-cancer diets, the ´Tree of Life´, for specific guidance).


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Understanding your doctor

Although we always try to write in easy-to-understand words, you may find that some web sites, information leaflets, Doctors and Nurses use words that are not as easy to understand. For that reason we have compiled a list of all the ´technical´ words they commonly use called DOCTORSPEAK, the list turns it all into simple, easy to understand English. You can find this list of words by clicking here.

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Other Ways forward

You might decide that drugs and chemotherapy are not for you. You might want to look into Diet therapies  on this site you will find all the details about the famous Gerson Therapy, or Dr Gonzalez  in New York, who has clinical trials to support his diet and supplement therapy.

The Tree of LifeYou might simply want to look at diet to support your orthodox treatments  we have that too. As we mentioned above our book,´The Tree of life the anti-cancer Diet´  gives you lots of information, even a shopping trolley of foods to buy! We even have articles on this web site covering which herbs  are known to make a difference.

You might want to look for the best supplements to take not merely the everyday antioxidants but natural compounds supported in research as having anti-cancer activity like vitamin D, Fish oilstotal vitamin E, curcumin and probiotics.

If you are looking for supplements click on the tab at the top of the page and go to the Natural Selection shop where they have selected the best of the best and you can buy with confidence.

You may want to look at how daily light exercise can help (some research says it cuts mortality by up to 50 per cent). Then there are clinical trials on meditation. You can access our ´kiddies guide´  to everything from massage to yoga.

Then there are energy therapies like acupuncture. People with cancer always have an imbalance in their body energy. It is relatively easy to fix and get it working for you again.

Cranial osteopathy

Finally you might want to try Hands on Healing, or even pay a visit to John of God. He´s free you just have to get to Brazil. He doesn´t cure people, ´God does´. We do know people who went who were very impressed.

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Overall

On this web site you will find more information about more treatment options (Complementary and Alternative, not just Orthodox), and on more possible contributory factors to the development and maintenance of your cancer, than on any other UK cancer web site. Some experts believe that approaching your cancer in this total way can increase an individuals chances of survival by as much as 60 per cent.
 
This is all supported by the very latest research evidence from all over the world in our news section Cancer Watch.  

We can do this because we are not hide-bound by vested interests, and so we can always put people first. We are not influenced by companies who seek to make financial gains from patients, we have no trustees working for, or sponsored directly or indirectly by such companies, our directors take no remuneration at all. This is our true independence, from which you benefit directly.
 
But this independence comes at a price: We can only rely on you, and people like you, to support our work. 47,703 people visited our site in March 2007, viewing 11 pages on average. Every month we add 20 new pages to this site. The letters and e mails of gratitude and praise tell us we really do make a difference.

If you feel an independent voice is essential in cancer, please, please help by making a donation.  Every little helps.

                                              Donate button

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The CANCERactive Difference:   Intelligent Information. Independent Voice.


IMPORTANT INFORMATION

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This web site is intended to provide research-based information on cancer and its possible causes and therapies, so that you can make more informed decisions in consultation with those experts. Although our information comes from expert sources, and is most usually provided by Professors, scientists and Doctors, our easy-to-understand, jargon-free approach necessitates that journalists, not doctors, write the copy. For this reason, whilst the authors, management and staff of CANCERactive,
icon, and Health Issues have made every effort to ensure its accuracy, we assume no responsibility for any error, any omission or any consequences of an error or omission. Readers must consult directly with their personal specialists and advisors, and we cannot be held responsible for any action, or inaction, taken by readers as a result of information contained on this web site, or in any of our publications.  Any action taken or refrained from by a reader is taken entirely at the reader´s own instigation and, thus, own risk.


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