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yellow eyes/ liver

Fergus2007
Posts: 109
Joined: Dec 2007

We decided to give my father a hospital brake (after about 8 weeks in there).
The first visitor that came to see him yesterday commented on his eyes being "clearer". It's true, we never noticed - but his eyes had been a little on the yellow side for many years.
Of course I have been investigating the liver and liver diseases for a couple of weeks now (ever since the doctor said there were "spots" on his ct-scan) and I found a number of thing that would cause "spots" on a st-scan that would also cause yellow colored eyes.
... but now that the white of the eyes is perfectly white again we were told by the doctor that the pet-scan light-up what ever is going on in the liver.
As far as I know there are a couple of things that could be lighting-up that are NOT cancer.
Does anybody know if a liver that is regenerating due to fatty-liver would light-up?!
I have a feeling that there are more things going on in that liver other then JUST cancer.

shmurciakova's picture
shmurciakova
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Any are of increased cellular activity or inflammation can light up a PET scan. These active cells need/crave glucose and readily take it up compared to healthy cells. I would certainly think that any liver disease or healing process would cause the PET to light up. I don't think that they would necessarily show up on a CT scan though. I would also think that any liver disease could cause jaundice, as can chemo. If your father is on a chemo break, that could be the reason his eyes have cleared up. Chemo of course has to be processed through the liver and if he has a fatty liver, that could be very difficult.
Interesting. Good luck!
Susan H.

Fergus2007
Posts: 109
Joined: Dec 2007

He gave up alcohol compleatly when he was diagnosed with Colon Cancer in Aug/07.

He only had two rounds of chemo before he landed in Intensive care in Nov/07 (he hasn't had any chemo since.)

Last September I started looking at possible causes for "shadows" on a CT-scan and found scaring and calcium deposits due to Hepititas caused by alcohol to be a possible cause. As well as the later stages of fatty liver - liver cirrhosis ... .

My father did enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with every dinner as well as drink or two of beer during the day.

shmurciakova's picture
shmurciakova
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hmmm. Well, for one thing I would have your father take a bottle of Milk Thistle (sylimarin) over the next few weeks. It is great for detoxing the liver. Since he is not on chemo at the moment no one can object! It really doesn't sound to me like your father would have cirrhosis of the liver. I would think it would take some serious boozing to do that sort of damage, although I am not 100% positive of that. As far as I know the liver can take quite alot of abuse. Has he been tested for Hepatitis? My friend in high school had hepatitis and his eyes got all yellow. At any rate, it is certainly something to ask the doctors about. I have a cyst on my liver that always shows up on the CT scans. Anyway, unfortunately with his diagnosis of colon cancer, any spots that show up on the liver are suspected to be mets, because that is where colon cancer usually goes, but you are right, there could be more than one issue going on.
I hope you get the answers you need quickly,
Best of luck,
Susan H.

Fergus2007
Posts: 109
Joined: Dec 2007

Thank you for your advise!
I will get him some milk thistle tomorrow.
I did ask the doctor about the possibility of fatty liver or hepatitis (neither of which he has been tested for) but all I got from the doctor was a rather perplexed look followed by a "No".
I'm feeling that whatever shows up in any ct-scans or pet scans will be viewed as cancer because it is "likely" to be - although there "could" be other factors ... .
Not that it matters that much since he will start chemo soon - so if it DOESN'T shrink I would think the doctor will come up with other theories. :)
So far they've been driving us insane with possible brain cancer and bone cancer - both checked out to be nothing.

vinny3's picture
vinny3
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

If he had yellow eyes his liver enzymes should all have been quite elevated. As mentioned, any healing area can produce spots on a PET scan. If he was a fairly regular drinker, and his liver functions have not been good, he should be tested for Hepatitis, specifically Hepatitis C. That is one of the major causes of cirrhosis for people who drank fairly regularly. The reason that it is important for him now is that since the chemo is processed through the liver, and is toxic, he may not be able to tolerate it or they may have to use different chemo drugs.

Dick

Fergus2007
Posts: 109
Joined: Dec 2007

Aren't elevated liver enzymes viewed as a clue to Cancer in the liver?

He had been a faily regular drinker - and all doctors had been told - non of them checked into any possible liver demage other then cancer.

He did NOT react well to the first two rounds of chemo - but I hear the liver can regenerate itself within a couple of months if it's Hepatitus C caused by alcohol and not a cirrhosis yet?

vinny3's picture
vinny3
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

The liver enzymes are elevated just as a sign that there is some damage going on to liver cells. If, for example, you went on an alcohol binge for a day or two and then checked your liver enzymes a few days after that there would be some mild elevation of some of the enzymes. If a person has normal liver function and normal enzymes and then develops cancer and the subsequent liver enzymes are elevated then the assumption is made that it is from the cancer but that is not always correct. The liver enzymes aren't specific as to the cause of the elevation. For that other tests have to be done such as scans, ultrasound, biopsy, etc. To diagnose cirrhosis usually a liver biopsy is needed although one may get a clue from some of the other tests, especially if the liver looks like it has shrunk down. A fatty liver usually gets larger and occurs earlier than cirrhosis. The liver does have a great capacity to regenerate itself unless cirrhosis has developed or most of the liver cells have been replaced by fatty degeneration.

If your father no longer drinks it is possible that his liver will recover enough so that he can tolerate the chemo.

Dick

Fergus2007
Posts: 109
Joined: Dec 2007

Thank you for all the info!

A biopsy was never done.
I know a blood test is rotine - but I have no idea what the results where.
A Ct-scan WAS done - but I know "spots" seen in those can be a sighn of various things.
They also did do an ultrasound - but only a couple of weeks ago when the pet scan was done.

It remains true that his eyes have cleared up and that he had been complaining about side pain which went away about a months after stopping all alcohol.

jams67's picture
jams67
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

Some medications cause yellow eyes because they affect your liver. I know antifungal meds. do and many others say "may affect your liver".
Jo Ann

Fergus2007
Posts: 109
Joined: Dec 2007

He actually never took any medications in his life.
Until now ... .

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