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Treatment options for Liver Cancer

BRinger3583
Posts: 5
Joined: Jul 2011

My dad was diagnosed with Liver Cancer in April of this year. The cancer has spread into his bones as well. On April 29th he started Chemo (4 Nexavar tablets daily). A week later he had severe mouth ulcers. He came off Nexavar for one week and received medicine to help with the ulcers. He was then placed on a reduced dosage of Nexavar (2 tablets daily). He had regular blood work, which were showing that his cancer cell count was dropping. This was positive news and gave us hope. He also receives monthly fusions for bone strength.

Even with the good news about cancer cells dropping, he continued to get weaker and weaker and was restritcted to a recliner nearly 24x7. He got to the point where he was so weak and out of breath just getting out of the chair whipped him. He also continues to lose weight. His weight has dropped from 200 to 149 since April. On July 5th we took him to the hospital and he was admitted. Today is July 14th and he is still in the hospital. He has pneumonia, dehydration, and severe diahrea. He needed to have 2 liters of fluid pumped off his lungs. He still has some more fluid on his lungs and cannot eat. He was moved out of ICU yesterday, but still remains extremely weak and ill. A CT scan was performed and showed that the cancer has worsened. The doctor has advised that he will need to stop taking Nexavar.

Do you think that Nexavar was the best treament option for my dad and what lies ahead? Are there any alternative treatment options?

Any comments are appreciated. Its a very difficult time. I hate to see Dad suffer like this and want to see him get some reflief.

LeeandShirley's picture
LeeandShirley
Posts: 122
Joined: Apr 2011

The number of treatments for advanced liver cancer are few. My husband has advanced liver and was being treated with a combination of drugs (Cisplatin and Gemzar). He was not given the option of Nexavar by his oncologist. He too is very weak. Weakness is mostly in the legs which throw off his balance. So, he too stays on a recliner most of the day. I think this is just the way some liver cancers play out. He does not have bone involvement, but he has multiple liver tumors and multiple lymph nodes involved. He has not felt "bad" on his chemo treatments, but he has developed sepsis and the oncologist has temorarily suspended treatment. This is because their first priority is to do NO harm. When treatments do more harm than good, they will stop that treatment, rather than further debilitate a weak patient. There is only one other drug that I have heard of, called Avastin. This is about the full arsenal of drugs they have to combat this type of cancer, which is usually resistant to chemotherapy. So sorry to hear about your dads condition and dx. As for alternative options, my husband was told that palliative chemo was his only option, not for a cure, but for a possible slowing to the cancer spread. You need to sit down and talk with his doctor and get him to be completely honest with you about his options. And he needs to explain in a way that you completely understand what he is saying. Sometimes doctors assume you will know how serious a patient is , but that is rarely true. Has your dads doctor talked about Hospice care after your dad gets out of the hospital? This may be the next step. My best to you and your family. I hope your dad can get some relief from his illness. This is a hard cancer to deal with. Not that any cancer is easy. But, liver cancer is very bad, and prognosis for it is poor.

aykt34
Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2011

Sometimes doctors assume you will know how serious a patient is , but that is rarely true. Has your dads doctor talked about Hospice care after
your dad gets out of the hospital? This may be the next step. My best to you and your family. I hope your dad can get some relief from his illness. This is a hard cancer to deal with. Not that any cancer is easy. But, liver cancer is very bad, and prognosis for it is poor.

biborges
Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2011

I lost my mom to liver cancer about 4 months ago.. she passed away April 16th. I am still in complete shock and pain - still get butterflies in my stomach when I realize she doesn't exist anymore (at least not here). For days and months I kept asking myself and my family what were the doctors giving her, and what else could they have done for her. Truth is, doctors will do everything they can in their power to help - like BRinger said, once the treatment starts doing more harm than good, they will stop it, and slowly the body will start shutting down. Doctors and nurses will give medications to make sure the patient stays as comfortable as possible during this tough process. I know you want to know what treatments and medications could be given to your dad, but trust me, his doctors are doing all they can. My mom reacted really good to her chemo at first, but then things started going downhill. When the body is shutting down we notice a couple of signs..my mom's was..she stopped eating and drinking, lost control of bowel movements, became weaker and weaker at the point where she couldn't walk anymore, couldn't sleep (she slept only a few hours a night), and finally became jaundiced. This is, I would say, the final step of the disease..jaundice is when the liver finally stops working, and the patient will have yellow eyes and skin. She got jaundiced one morning and 10 days later she passed away. It is the most difficult thing in life - to see the person you love suffering so much and losing life right in front of you. I told her I couldn't stand seeing her suffering so much and she responded " I know honey.. I can imagine". She was holding on and fighting so much...at some point I had to tell her: "It's time for you to be ok mom, enough of this suffering. It's ok to let go..talk to God and your angels and ask them to help you be ok. Our love is so strong it will. My brother and I will be fine, you don't have to worry about us- our love is what matters and the 3 of us are going to be together always and always". Three hours later, she passed away.. I know she was fighting so much because she feared my brother and I couldn't handle it.. this is what I read recently : " It is also important to reassure them that it is all right to let go and die whenever they are ready. Some people will hold on until they have heard these words from the people they love. So letting them go can be one of the most important and loving things you can do for them."

biborges
Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2011

I lost my mom to liver cancer about 4 months ago.. she passed away April 16th. I am still in complete shock and pain - still get butterflies in my stomach when I realize she doesn't exist anymore (at least not here). For days and months I kept asking myself and my family what were the doctors giving her, and what else could they have done for her. Truth is, doctors will do everything they can in their power to help - like BRinger said, once the treatment starts doing more harm than good, they will stop it, and slowly the body will start shutting down. Doctors and nurses will give medications to make sure the patient stays as comfortable as possible during this tough process. I know you want to know what treatments and medications could be given to your dad, but trust me, his doctors are doing all they can. My mom reacted really good to her chemo at first, but then things started going downhill. When the body is shutting down we notice a couple of signs..my mom's was..she stopped eating and drinking, lost control of bowel movements, became weaker and weaker at the point where she couldn't walk anymore, couldn't sleep (she slept only a few hours a night), and finally became jaundiced. This is, I would say, the final step of the disease..jaundice is when the liver finally stops working, and the patient will have yellow eyes and skin. She got jaundiced one morning and 10 days later she passed away. It is the most difficult thing in life - to see the person you love suffering so much and losing life right in front of you. I told her I couldn't stand seeing her suffering so much and she responded " I know honey.. I can imagine". She was holding on and fighting so much...at some point I had to tell her: "It's time for you to be ok mom, enough of this suffering. It's ok to let go..talk to God and your angels and ask them to help you be ok. Our love is so strong it will. My brother and I will be fine, you don't have to worry about us- our love is what matters and the 3 of us are going to be together always and always". Three hours later, she passed away.. I know she was fighting so much because she feared my brother and I couldn't handle it.. this is what I read recently : " It is also important to reassure them that it is all right to let go and die whenever they are ready. Some people will hold on until they have heard these words from the people they love. So letting them go can be one of the most important and loving things you can do for them."

biborges
Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2011

http://cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org/coping-with-cancer/dying/what-happens-in-the-final-days-of-lif

I thought this was very helpful and informative..

biborges
Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2011

I pasted the link with a letter missing and it didnt work, so here it goes again

http://cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org/coping-with-cancer/dying/what-happens-in-the-final-days-of-life

BRinger3583
Posts: 5
Joined: Jul 2011

Thank you for the comments. After I posted this thread my dad went downhill sharply.

On July 18th my dad came home from the hospital. He was extremely week and immobile. From this point on dad had nothing at all to do with food. His diet consisted of two carnation instant breakfast drinks a day (mix in milk). He drank one in the morning and one at night. He began to sleep more. He was still fighting though, he wanted me to work his legs and arms so he could try walking again.

My mom's birthday was July 29th and he requested that I have a party for her. He ate or drank nothing that day, but was glad he had mom's party. This day was the start where he was no longer talkative.

On August 3rd he had an extremely rough night, he couldn't get comfortable and had severe breathing problems. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance at 8am. He was in complete panic and said that he wasn't going to make it. He was placed on a ventilator, had fluid drained, and received some relief. Starting at this point his diet only consists of water. Nothing else.

August 6th he was very week and received a blood transfusion. From this point on he was back and forth from oxygen through the nose and a ventilator for breathing problems.

August 6th dad would no longer keep his eyes open. This is the day he separated from this world in my opinion. He had one foot in this world and one foot in the next life. He would say random things, would not interact with whats around him, and would occasionally say that he spoke to a dead relative or friend.

August 10th dad requested that he come home. He had a very rough evening with trouble breathing, nausea, and diarrhea. At this point we were under hospice care. Dad went into a coma in the late morning of August 11th. He passed almost a day later at 826 on August 12th in the presence of myself, my mom, and my brother.

Dad had a short 4 month battle with this illness. He fault it hard, but this cancer was found too late and it just took over too fast. It will be very difficult to go on, dad was my very best friend. Every thing I see and do reminds me of him. I will truly miss him. He will always be in my heart.

Darryl2010
Posts: 15
Joined: Dec 2010

BRinger, I'm really sorry for your loss of your Dad. I too am a liver cancer patient and, although I don't normally post anything in these boards (I'm very private about myself) your last email made me cry for your loss and I just had to reach out. Your experience is unfortunately too normal with this disease, where 50% of the people who get it die within 5 1/2 months of their diagnosis. Nothing anyone can say can ease the loss of your father. I hope you continue to hold him in your heart and live a life that will make him proud of you.
Darryl

LeeandShirley's picture
LeeandShirley
Posts: 122
Joined: Apr 2011

Dear BRinger3583,
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. You only have one Dad and I know he will be missed terribly from your description of your relationship. May God give you the strength to endure this, one of lifes worst cruelties. (The loss of a parent.)

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