Not long ago, someone close to me lost a heroic battle with liver cancer. This makes me want to share some wisdom I garnered from his fight. First of all, maintain a positive attitude. I’m convinced my uncle’s optimistic outlook kept him healthier longer and gave him more strength to deal with the treatment and its side effects. Strength in mind, strength in body! What are your thoughts on the mind-body connection?
Second, never give up! There are many treatment options. If none of the traditional treatments are effective and you’re able, travel to or contact one of the nation’s major cancer centers. They may have an experimental therapy or know of a clinical trial that’s off the radar.
For those who haven’t been diagnosed with liver cancer, don’t wait to see your doctor if you begin to experience any of its symptoms. The sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin, the better the chances treatment will be effective. Here are some noticeable symptoms of liver cancer according to the American Cancer Society:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Eating just a little bit but feeling full
- Nausea or vomiting
- A mass under your ribs on the right side (may be an enlarged liver)
- A mass under your ribs on the left side (may be an enlarged spleen)
- Swelling in your abdomen (belly) or near your right shoulder blade
- Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (called jaundice)
- Abnormal bruising or bleeding
Lastly, evaluate and modify your risk factors where appropriate. Liver cancer occurs when the DNA in the cells is somehow damaged and the cells begin to malfunction. Exactly why this happens is still somewhat of a mystery, but we know there are factors that put a person at a greater risk for developing this disease.
Some of the factors that increase your risk for liver cancer cannot be changed or prevented, but living a healthy lifestyle can reduce some others. Suggestions to lower liver cancer risk include:
- Don’t smoke
- Use alcohol in moderation.
- Keep diabetes in control.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Also, to avoid getting hepatitis, HIV or other viral infections that affect the liver, don’t use IV drugs or share needles, and don’t have unprotected sex. Live healthy – and smart! Do you have any other suggestions?