Liver cancer incidence and death rates are increasing rapidly. Although there is no screening test for the disease, minimizing risk factors—hepatitis B and C, smoking, obesity and type 2 diabetes—could prevent many cases from developing.
WHEN FRANK GARDEA was diagnosed with liver cancer in March 2013, he never expected he’d live to ring in 2014—let alone see the calendar turn to 2018. Neither did his doctors.
That March day, the 59-year-old resident of Woodland Hills, California, showed up at a Los Angeles County emergency room with severe abdominal pain. The pain itself wasn’t new; he’d been talking to doctors about it for two years. But the intensity was. Soon, the ER team discovered what Gardea’s other doctors had not seen: an 8-centimeter tumor on his liver.
Tests showed Gardea had hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer in adults. He also had hepatitis C and early stages of cirrhosis. Gardea says his doctors told him that the tumor’s size and the underlying liver disease left him with a poor prognosis, and they advised him to get his affairs in order. Gardea felt certain he had only a few more months to live, but then, by chance, other doctors doing rounds saw his chart.
Read my full article in the spring issue of Cancer Today.