You can still live a happy and healthy life even if you have liver cancer. Liver cancer is a very deadly disease, and sometimes, it becomes very hard to treat it, especially in its advanced stages. In such cases, you don’t have to worry at all. You can receive your treatment according to your cancer stage and still live a healthy life with it.
Liver Cancer Survival Rates
The survival rates or prognosis for your liver cancer depends on several factors such as:
- the severity of liver cancer
- the number of lesions present
- whether your liver cancer has spread and invaded other parts of the body
- the health of the unaffected liver tissues
- the patient's overall health
A person's life expectancy with liver cancer depends on multiple factors that may impact whether the cancer is curable or not. According to the American Cancer Society, the overall five-year survival rate for all liver cancer stages is 15%. The survival rate is so low since many individuals with liver cancer also have other different underlying liver diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. Still, the five-year survival rate may vary based on how far your cancer has spread. For example, if your cancer is localized in the liver only, the five-year survival rate can go up to 28%. In case your liver cancer has invaded the nearby organs or is regional, the five-year survival rate can go up to 7%. Once your liver cancer has metastasized, your survival rate goes down to two years.
However, the survival rates discussed above can be affected by any available treatments. Part of your liver can be removed surgically and give you a five-year survival rate of more than 50%. In case your liver cancer is diagnosed at the early stages and a liver transplant is given, the five-year survival rate goes as high as 70%.
5 Tips on Living with Liver Cancer
Once you are diagnosed with liver cancer, your lifestyle changes completely. However, you can’t change the fact that you have liver cancer. What you can change at this point in time is how you live the remaining part of your life. It is up to you to make choices that can help you live a healthy life and feel as happy as you can. This is the time that you should live your life in new ways. Maybe you are thinking about how you can change your diet or work. Here are five tips to help you cope with living with liver cancer:
1. Eating Better
Eating enough food that is recommended for your liver cancer can be difficult for everyone. This situation can even get harder after and during your treatment. The reason is that cancer drugs can change your taste senses. At this point, nausea can be a great problem as well. You will always lose your appetite to anything, which will eventually make you weaker. With time, these problems will get better, but you need to force yourself to eat enough food to make sure that you are healthy. Eating a little food can weaken your immune system and predisposing yourself to other diseases and infections. Therefore, it is recommended to eat better during and after your liver cancer treatment to make sure you are living a healthy life.
2. Body Exercises
It is evident that those liver cancer patients who follow a strict exercise program feel better emotionally and physically. If you have a certain disease and you don’t make your body active during or after treatment, you will experience declined muscle strength, endurance, and fitness. Any physical activities that you plan for yourself after your liver cancer treatment should be suitable for you and your condition. If you have not exercised for a few years, it is recommended that you start slowly such as taking daily short walks. It is obvious that anyone who has never exercised will not do the same exercise as the one who plays basketball thrice a week. Exercising is also important even to those people without liver cancer. Doing exercises will help you avoid other problems such as obesity and osteoporosis. Some recommended activities include yoga, weight-resistant exercises, as well as aerobic exercises.
3. Eating the Right Diet for Liver Cancer
Taking dietary supplements and appropriate food choices for cancer survivors can help them improve their quality of life and also increase their survival rate. There are some foods that are very much recommended in cancer while there are also types of food that you should avoid.
Foods to Avoid
The following are the foods that you should avoid once diagnosed with liver cancer and after treatment.
- Alcohol: According to statistics, those who drink alcohol after their liver cancer treatment often increase their risk of cancer recurrence. Alcohol can also affect how your liver cancer drugs are broken down in the body, increasing the side effects. It has been noted that a number of cancer drugs can create sores in the mouth, which means that drinking alcohol can cause a significant reaction in the body.
- Fats: Although not all fats are bad for your body, some fats have been linked to high calories and obesity. It is, therefore, important to avoid high saturated fatty acid foods and shift to foods that are rich in monounsaturated, omega-3-fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The foods that are recommended after and before your liver cancer treatment include:
- Antioxidants: these are the types of food that breakdown other oxygen reactive species, which would decrease your risk of liver cancer recurrence after treatment. Foods that are rich in antioxidants are those that contain vitamin B and C such as fruits and vegetables.
- Lean foods: you should refrain from eating fatty foods to avoid obesity among other unhealthy conditions associated with bad fats.
- Phytochemicals: can be found in most fruits and vegetables. Eating foods that are highly enriched with phytochemicals can help protect your cells from further damage, especially in fighting off cancer.
- Organic foods: since your liver is the organ responsible for body detoxification, it is important to avoid foods farmed with a lot of chemicals such as processed or junk foods.
4. Follow-up After Treatment
It is always recommended for liver cancer patients to follow up with their doctors for physical examination, laboratory tests, and scans. Patients who have liver transplants will always need immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives to make sure that their bodies are not rejecting the new liver.
5. Talking to Other People
Talking to your relatives, family members, and friends about your liver cancer can be very helpful. However, there are people who are afraid to share their emotions about their condition. This feeling of fear and depression would lead them to isolation. Talking about your liver cancer can increase the support and trust of your family members and friends. Your family members and friends can help you financially and also give you the emotional support you need to avoid being stressed with your liver cancer.
The Bottom Line
You can have liver cancer and still live a happy and healthy life. Therefore, it is important to avoid all factors that may reduce your survival rate. You should also avoid anything that is likely to bring a negative impact to your condition and focus on all factors that will make your body become healthy. Avoiding stress, receiving love and support from your family, avoiding alcohol, visiting your doctors regularly, and also eating the right kind of foods for your cancer can increase your chances of living a long life with liver cancer.