Liver is one of the most common organs where an advanced lung cancer spreads. It is pretty close to the lungs. They are also connected by many blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. In general, the prognosis of early lung cancer is much better than when the disease has become advanced. However, each case is unique.
The cancer cells can break away from their primary tumor in the lung. They can travel through bloodstream and lymphatic system. For instance, once they arrive in the lymph nodes, they are likely to spread to other parts of the body.
Cancer cells from the lung that go and spread to the liver can make a new growth called secondary (metastatic) liver cancer. And it is different from primary liver cancer, a cancer that first started and developed in the liver.
The key point is the type of cancer cell. In this section, metastatic liver cancer is made by cancer cells that first developed in the lung. If you have primary liver cancer, it is made from the original cells in the liver.
The type of cancer cells plays a key role in determining the treatment plan, because different type of cancer cells will also behave in different ways. Therefore, the treatment for primary and secondary cancer is not same.
How often is lung cancer with liver metastasis? The answer is quite common. Liver is a common place where advanced lung cancer spreads. Other common places are lymph nodes (especially those within the chests, in the abdomen, armpit, and neck), bones, adrenal glands, and brain.
Liver is vulnerable for the advanced stage of other cancers, too. These include cancers of rectum, colon, and breast.
When cancer cells from lung cancer have traveled to the liver and cause a secondary cancerous growth, you may have some of the following symptoms:
- Feeling of sickness and fatigue.
- Pain or other discomforts on the tummy, especially on the right side of your abdomen.
- Changes in appetite, such as decreased appetite or appetite loss. This can cause unwanted weight loss.
- In advanced case, secondary cancer can cause swollen liver and trigger excess fluid buildups. These can be noticed with a swollen abdomen.
But some of these symptoms can be attributed by other underlying causes. They don’t always point to a liver metastasis.
According to statistics, the outlook and prognosis for advanced lung cancer (stage IV) are the worst if compared to other stages of the disease (stage III, II, and I). However, there is no any statistic and data that can tell you what will happen exactly.
Again, each case of cancer is different and unique. The prognosis for each patient can vary. For instance, while in some cases the treatment is still able to remove the secondary cancer, sometime it is only aimed to help ease the symptoms and control the cancer.
The successful rate of the treatment (how well the advanced cancer responds to the treatment) can play a role in affecting the outlook of the disease. And in making the treatment plan, this depends on the following factors:
- The general health and fit status of patient.
- The kind of treatment you have already taken.
- How many parts of the liver affected by the cancer.
- Whether other parts of the body (such as brain, bones, or else) are also already affected by the cancer!
As well we know that there are several types of lung cancer. But it is classified into two main groups; non-small cell and small cell carcinoma.
And the kind of primary lung cancer that you have can also play a key role. In general, the prognosis for non-small cell carcinoma with liver metastasis is slightly better than small cell carcinoma with the same stage.
Statistically, patients who have stage IV non-small lung cancer are more likely to survive better and live longer than those who have stage IV small cell. According to a worldwide study in 2007, here are some helpful explanations: