Liver Cancer - Medical Negligence Lawyers
According to the World Health Organisation the highest incidence of medical negligence in the developed world occurs in Australia. If you have been injured by a healthcare professional including a doctor, dentist, nurse or technician and would like to speak to a liver cancer medical negligence lawyer without further obligation, just use the helpline. A medical negligence lawyer who deals exclusively in personal injury claims will speak to you, giving free advice and information on how best to preserve your legal right to receive compensation as a result of injuries caused by medical negligence.
Our liver cancer medical negligence lawyers have solicitors offices situated in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin.
There are no obvious symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer however as the disease progresses there may be evidence of jaundice and ascites accompanied by pain and other more specific symptoms :-
Jaundice occurs if the liver isn’t functioning properly and fails to rid the body of its toxins. Jaundice causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow and may cause severe itching, with dark coloured urine and stools.
Ascites is caused by a build up of fluids causing abdominal swelling which may be due to cancer cells affecting how the liver functions or by cancer cells blocking the lymphatic system which drains excess fluid.
The problem with liver cancer is that the symptoms can be confused and misdiagnosed by a doctor as some other less serious condition. Misdiagnosis of liver cancer is medical negligence. Liver cancer diagnosis is by ultrasound scan, abdominal CT (computerised tomography) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, liver biopsy and laparoscopy all of which depend on human interpretation of test results making the victim vulnerable to misdiagnosis.
Liver cancer originates in the liver, which is the large organ located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. It can spread to other body areas in some cases. There are more than 3,000 new cases of liver cancer noted each year in Australia with about 2,000 or more deaths per year.
Cancer begins in the cells of the body and liver cancer begins in liver cells. It is the product of aberrations in the DNA of the cells that cause the cell to grow out of control. They spread by breaking pieces off the main body of the tumour and travelling via the lymph system or the bloodstream to other body areas.
There are several causes of liver cancer. These risk factors don’t always cause cancer of the liver but increase the chance that cancer can occur. Those things that increase the risk of getting liver cancer include the following:
- Hepatitis B and C infections. Liver cancer can happen when a person has a chronic hepatitis B or C infection for many years. These infections have become the greatest risk of liver cancer throughout the world. These diseases are spread through blood or sexual activity with another person who is also infected.
- Alcoholism with heavy alcohol use. It turns out that having more than two drinks of alcohol per day increases the chances of getting liver cancer. The more you drink, the greater is the chance of getting liver cancer.
- Aflatoxin. Certain molds will give off dangerous aflatoxin. It can be found by mold in corn, nuts, peanuts, and grains. It is a big problem in certain areas of Asia and Africa.
- Having iron storage disease. This involves having a disease in which the body stores too much iron. This irritates the liver and triggers liver cancer.
- Cirrhosis of the liver. This liver disease happens because of many different diseases, including alcoholism, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C infections. The liver becomes scarred down and cancer can occur.
- Obesity and diabetes cause a fatty liver which can turn into liver cancer.
Symptoms of liver failure include the following:
- Pain located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Feelings of fullness
- Having a lump or a feeling of being heavy in the right upper quadrant.
- Loss of weight
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eyes and skin that are yellow
- Dark urine and pale stools
The above symptoms can be caused by other symptoms other than liver cancer. This is why the doctor needs to do blood tests and imaging scans that point more to cancer than any other thing. In order to prove that a person has liver cancer, they need a percutaneous or open liver biopsy that will demonstrate under the microscope that the cancer is from the liver and doesn’t represent metastatic disease.
When cancer of the liver has been diagnosed, it needs to be staged for treatment. Staging of liver cancer involves the following tests:
- CT scan of the chest. Liver cancer often metastasises to lungs so this is a fair test to do.
- Bone scan. This assesses increased metabolic activity to bone such as is seen in liver metastases. Radioactive contrast dye is used along with a scanner to analyse the amount of radioactive dye taken up by metastatic areas of bone.
- PET scan. This uses radioactive sugar to detect areas of the body that is taking up too much of the sugar as part of the metastatic process.
With liver cancer, there are several choices of treatment. They involve any of the following treatment options:
- Targeted therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Liver transplant
The complications of treating liver cancer include failure to promptly diagnose the disease despite obvious symptoms and failure to properly manage treatment, which can be fatal if not done properly.
HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here