Liver Cancer - Medical Malpractice Lawyer
LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
Thousands of Canadian citizens are diagnosed with liver cancer every year however only a minority are diagnosed early enough to affect a cure. The key to survival is early diagnosis and treatment which is often delayed due to misdiagnosis or misinterpreted test results. Liver cancer misdiagnosis is extremely common and failure by a healthcare practitioner that amounts to negligence is a matter of medical malpractice and entitles the victim to claim financial recompense for pain and suffering or the loss of opportunity for a cure. Our specialist medical malpractice lawyers deal with liver cancer clinical negligence cases against doctors, nurses, technicians and other healthcare providers working in medical practices, clinics, hospitals and all other places where health care is dispensed. If you would like advice about liver cancer misdiagnosis just contact our offices and a specialist medical malpractice lawyer with call to discuss your potential compensation claim without charge and without further obligation. Our liver cancer medical malpractice lawyers will give you their opinion on the liability of the negligent healthcare provider and will estimate the amount of the likely award of damages there and then.
Liver Cancer Overview
Liver cancer is also known as hepatocellular cancer and occurs when cells of the liver change their DNA so that the cells grow out of control. It takes just one liver cell to turn into full blown liver cancer. In general, liver cancer has been felt to be relatively rare in the US; however, in the Far East, liver cancer is the most common cancer. The incidence of liver cancer is increasing from 1.4 to 2.5 individuals per 100,000 of the population. This has happened because of an increase in the incidence of hepatitis C in Canada. There are about 250,000 Canadians who have had hepatitis C long enough to have hepatocellular carcinoma at some point in their lives. Hepatitis B is another cause of possible hepatocellular carcinoma but this is much less risk than with hepatitis C.
About 2000 people will suffer from liver cancer in Canada each year. The rate is almost twice as high in men when compared to women. About 1600 individuals will die from the disease. The average age at diagnosis is 66 years of age. It is rare before age 20 and a quarter of all cases are diagnosed between 65 and 74 years old. The average age of death from liver cancer is about 71 years of age. Death rates from liver cancer range from 3.0 per 100,000 in women to 6.8 per 100,000 in men. Asians and Pacific Islanders have the highest rate of death due to liver cancer.
The main causes of hepatocellular carcinoma or liver cancer include abuse of alcohol, which is the most common cause in the US, autoimmune diseases of the liver, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, any inflammation of the liver that is long lasting, and hemochromatosis or too much iron in the body. Hepatitis C and hepatitis C can cause liver cancer without actually having cirrhosis first.
The main symptoms of hepatocellular carcinoma include pain in the abdomen, particularly in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. There can be swelling of the right upper quadrant or of the entire abdomen as fluid builds up in the abdomen from a liver that is not working well. You can have easy bruisability or bleeding because the clotting factors are not being made by the liver. Jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin, can occur when the liver stops functioning properly. You can lose weight without really trying and you can be fatigued and have a poor appetite.
The diagnosis of liver cancer depends on a complete history and physical examination. The doctor may be able to feel a mass in the right upper quadrant, depending on the location of the tumor. Ascites or fluid buildup in the abdomen can be seen on exam. Jaundice can be seen on examination. The liver can be tender on examination. Doctors can also do an abdominal ultrasound to see if there is a mass in the liver or an abdominal CT scan or MRI scan. A liver biopsy can be done under CT scan or ultrasound guidance. This can tell whether or not the mass in the abdomen is truly a liver cancer. Doctors can do tests of the blood to include hepatitis screening for hepatitis B and hepatitis C as well as liver function studies which may show elevations in the liver enzymes. A radioactive liver scan can show areas of increased activity within the liver and a serum alpha fetoprotein level can be indicative of a liver cancer.
The treatment of a liver cancer includes aggressively removing the tumor via surgery. This may mean removing the liver entirely and doing a liver transplant. This can be curative for the cancer if the cancer is small and has not metastasized. The problem is that few people are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. Chemotherapy and radiation can be tried but do not cure the disease. Sometimes chemotherapy and radiation are used to shrink a tumor so that it can be more easily removed surgically. Nexavar is a biologic treatment that blocks the growth of cancers and is approved for the treatment of patients who have advanced liver cancer
LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here