Liver Secondaries/Metastatic Liver Cancer

What is Liver Metastases?

Liver secondaries or metastatic liver cancer or liver metastases is a medical condition that occurs when cancerous cells spread (metastasized) to the liver from any other part of the body. As such, these tumors may develop either:

  • right after the development of the original tumor, or
  • months or several years later

Metastatic liver cancer cells are made up of the same types of cancerous cells as the primary organ cancer.

What Are The Common Cancers Which Causes Liver Metastases?

The risk of spread of cancer to the liver depends on the primary cancer and the stage of cancer at diagnosis. Some primary cancers are more likely to spread to the liver, and are listed as follows:

  1. Colon and rectum
  2. Pancreas
  3. Breast
  4. Ovaries and uterus
  5. Lung
  6. Kidney
  7. Oesophagus
  8. Stomach

What Are The Symptoms Of Liver Metastases?

There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of liver metastases. In later stages, patients suffering from liver metastases can develop symptoms related to liver swelling, such as:

  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite, and weight loss
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen as well as right side of the rib cage
  • Jaundice or yellowish skin
  • Fever and cold chills
  • Dark-colored urine

What Are The Treatments For Liver Metastases?

There are several factors which your doctor will consider in treating liver metastases and treatment planning is usually done by a multi-disciplinary team including a liver surgeon and medical oncologist. The choice of treatment may depend on patient’s health condition, type of primary cancer, and size, location and number of metastatic liver tumours.
Systemic Therapies: This is used to treat the patient’s entire body all through their bloodstream.

The therapy includes procedures such as:

  • Chemotherapy: In this treatment, drugs are used to kill the cancerous cells.
  • Targeted Therapy: The method uses drugs along with other agents (including monoclonal antibodies). These antibodies attach to specific parts of the cancerous cells to enable treatment targeting with radiation and drugs, or by obstructing the growth of cancerous cells.
  • Immunotherapy: This treatment makes use of certain vaccines, antibodies, and growth factors to restore or boost the patient’s immune system to effectively fight against cancer.
  • Hormonal Therapy: In this procedure, a doctor removes, adds, or blocks hormones to stop or slow down the growth of tumors.
  • Localized Therapies: In this procedure, a doctor mainly targets the tumor cells (or nearby tissue) only. These therapies are used if the cancer is detected in the early stages.
  • Surgery: Surgical removal of the tumor is possible when complete liver metastases removal is feasible with sufficient remaining liver volume.
  • Radiation Therapy: This procedure uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells. This can be done with external beam radiation, or internal radiation.

Even if a primary cancer is removed or thought to be cured, liver metastasis can still occur years later! We can help with a complete liver assessment in event of new symptoms development, especially unexplained weight loss and abdominal discomfort.