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Old 02-06-2007, 07:37 AM   #1
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Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

I should have just asked my doctor this yesterday. But why do many hep c people get cancer of the liver? Does it go hand in hand with fibrosis or damaged liver point blank or is it just a hep c thing?

 
Old 02-07-2007, 05:53 AM   #2
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Hi Jessy28,

I had this conversation with my heptologist last year so I cannot specifically state that I am remembering everything she said but here is what I recall:

Actually, people with hep C do not generally get liver cancer, at least not until the patient enters the final stage of liver degeneration (cirrhosis). People with hep B are more likely to get liver cancer than those with hep C. This has something to do with how the disease interacts with liver cells.

Doing a little research I discovered the following:
First, the mechanism for developing primary liver cancer (Hepatocelluar carcinoma) is not readily understood. It is known, however, that it arises from a malignancy of the primary liver cells known as hepatocytes.

People with hep B are more likely to get liver cancer than those with hep C because it is believed that the genetic material making up the hep B virus incorporates itself into the hepatocytes disrupting their normal functions resulting in a malignancy.

Unlike hep B, hep C does not behave the same, however, since cirrhosis can result from hep C it is thought the scarring and constant irritation brought on by the cirrhosis leads to the malignancy. Or, as the experts state, perhaps hep C interacts with the liver in ways not yet understood which leads to the cancer.
Information obtained from:
About.com: Hepatitis - Liver Cancer and Hepatitis

From what I have learned hepatitis C impacts people in vastly different ways. What is really strange to me is that the amount of disease measured by the viral count seems to have nothing to do with how sick a person becomes!

People with high viral counts may have minimal liver damage and those with low viral counts may progress to cirrhosis early on. It causes me some frustration because you cannot totally rely on what any test reveals to quantify how sick you may become.

Like I have said in other posts, I just try to live one day at a time.

ERK

 
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Old 02-07-2007, 06:22 AM   #3
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Thank you Erk. So I wonder if people with Cirosisi also tend to get liver cancer often because of the irritation of the liver and scarring.

 
Old 02-08-2007, 05:36 PM   #4
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

An interesting phenomena is occuring in the US...once it was thought that HEpC in non-drinkers was a disease that you would die with, not of...not much was known about it---now scientists are finding that more and more people with 3rd and 4th decade HCV are developing cancer. They don't know why, but they do know it is going to put a terrific strain on our already over burdened organ transplant organizations. I only know because my husband developed primary liver cancer in his 3rd decade of HCV... He received a transplant last September. Our drs told us they are seeing more and more cancer in HCV patients...we were lucky to have been diagnosed several years ago and lucky my hubby is a non drinker.

 
Old 02-11-2007, 09:43 AM   #5
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by liz49 View Post
An interesting phenomena is occuring in the US...once it was thought that HEpC in non-drinkers was a disease that you would die with, not of...not much was known about it---now scientists are finding that more and more people with 3rd and 4th decade HCV are developing cancer. They don't know why, but they do know it is going to put a terrific strain on our already over burdened organ transplant organizations. I only know because my husband developed primary liver cancer in his 3rd decade of HCV... He received a transplant last September. Our drs told us they are seeing more and more cancer in HCV patients...we were lucky to have been diagnosed several years ago and lucky my hubby is a non drinker.
I have read a lot of your posts so I do somewhat know your story. A lot of people at the clinic I go to have the same story. A lot of them are third decade hcv people. Good luck to your husband. I saw he got a liver transplant and that went well. At least I think that is what I read. What have they done with the liver cancer? Or does that leave when the old liver left?

 
Old 02-11-2007, 08:34 PM   #6
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Then cancer was in the caudate lobe of his liver, so when the diseased liver was totally removed, so was the cancer. The chances of it returning are practically zero. So, in essence, he is cured of cancer. He still has HEpc and we will have to deal with that at some point. He went 30+ years without it doing minimal damage to his liver, so hopefully, we will find that to be the case again, but we have no way of knowing. One really important factor in the treatment of HCV is to not drink alcohol in any form, and as he is a total non drinker, the drs are postitive that is what kept him healthy for so many years. we have been extremely blessed with this transplant, other than a post operative infection, which is not uncommon, he has accepted this liver as if it were his own, he is on such a low dose of immunosuppressant meds it's almost as if his body treat this organ like his own. We do not take this miracle for granted. we hope to soon be acting as organ donor advocates in schools and in our commnuity, teaching people about the importance of being organ donors. Because the # of people ion their 3rd & 4th decade of life with HCV developing cancer is becoming epidemic, it;s goign to be really important that people be educated.
Liz

 
Old 02-12-2007, 11:37 AM   #7
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Wow. Good for you all. And all so very true. I don't remember if you ever said that he did or did not go through tx for hep. Good luck to you all. If he did how did the tx go for him?

 
Old 02-12-2007, 08:15 PM   #8
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Because of the position of the tumor (up close to the inferior vena cava) and due to the rapid delcine in the state of his liver since his last biposy, he was not able to withstand any kind of treatment, such as tumor abalation or removal. Also his liver was very cirrhotic--so a transplant was deemed to be the only course of action. He is genotype 1a, and we hadn't even gotten to the point where we had even thought about treating his HCV, and it just began to rage out of control. So, no, no treatment at all, just clean living and no alcohol. (He never drank anyway).

 
Old 02-13-2007, 07:30 AM   #9
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Clean living is the way to go from what I hear from all the third decade heppers. Good for you guys and you all have been truely blessed.

 
Old 02-13-2007, 05:14 PM   #10
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessy28 View Post
I have read a lot of your posts so I do somewhat know your story. A lot of people at the clinic I go to have the same story. A lot of them are third decade hcv people. Good luck to your husband. I saw he got a liver transplant and that went well. At least I think that is what I read. What have they done with the liver cancer? Or does that leave when the old liver left?
First, it is important to remember that liver cancer is infrequent, even among people with hep c for three decades. It's just that it is SO rare otherwise that a relationship to hep c (or b) becomes at all apparent. Most peoplle with hep, even most of those who progress to cirrhois do not, repeat NOT, get liver cancer, even after three decades.

and yes, if you get a new liver, it is almost always cancer free or it would not be approved for donation. it will possibly get hep c again--from you, but the years-long slow crawl of hep c would in most cases just begin again. many years of healthy life can follow a transplant, although like any major surgery, there is always a risk.
hope this helps.

sean

Last edited by sean; 02-13-2007 at 05:16 PM.

 
Old 02-13-2007, 07:15 PM   #11
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Hi sean,
I would like to say thank you for being so informed and helping others..I am in my 14th week of tx..I have had to start and stop twice b/c of low platelets 27k/39k seems to run up and down.but I will say this I have shared with my dr. some of your post and it is apparent you are very well informed.again I would like to thank you for being a vital part of this board.
Jeff

 
Old 02-15-2007, 11:33 AM   #12
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Hi Sean,

I wonder where hep C hides out? Is it a blood disease? I always thought the virus was located in the liver but from what you say this doesn't seem to be the case?

Do you have any idea?

As far as liver cancer goes I am curious how it gets diagnosed? From what I have read people don't usually know they have it until it becomes really severe making the chances of treatment less than positive.

Apparently because our entire blood supply flows through the liver if you have liver cancer there is a good chance that it will metastisize to other organs because the cancer cells get picked up in the blood stream. I also have read that people with cancer in other areas of their bodies can end up with liver cancer for the same reason, all of our blood flows through the liver where it is filtered.

Hep C is really a mysterious disease. Some of us can have it for 3 or 4 decades (or longer) and others end up very sick very quickly.

I appreciate your comments.

Thanks,
ERK

 
Old 02-15-2007, 01:11 PM   #13
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Well, I know I'm not Sean, but I can answer that.. HCV is a disease of the liver..& the liver is necessary to life...blood of course passing thorugh the liver as a big filter. HCV is in both the liver & blood.

Primary Liver cancer (such as my husband had) begins in the liver..& is very different than a secondary liver cancer that as spread from a primary site--such as the breast or colon. The liver is often the site to which these cancers might metastisize and sadly, I haven't heard of anyone being able to live once secondary cancer reaches the liver.

A blood test will show elevated TSH levels which would indicate that the liver is "throwing off" cancer cells...a very simplified version of what a basic diagnostic tool it is. Only a doctor looking for such a thing would probably use this test, and if you already have HCV you've probably had the test and you don't even know it. Also CT scans and MRI's would show lesions. Biopsies being the gold standard for dx if you can get at the actual tumor.
Liver cancer in HCV patients, while on the rise, is still, without doubt, the exception, NOT the rule. My husband, as his docs all say is "One for the Books".

 
Old 02-16-2007, 02:03 PM   #14
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Re: Why do hep c people tend to get liver cancer?

Thanks guys and good luck to all and yes you are very helpful and well informed.

 
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