Liver Cancer

Ongoing Monitoring & Care

Whether you’ve finished treatment for liver cancer or are still receiving it, you will continue to be monitored through a follow-up care plan. These appointments give you the opportunity to keep the lines of communication open with your health care team and to address any new symptoms or concerns. You may continue to see several specialists, which include oncologists, hepatologists and your primary care physician, as well as others.

Regular monitoring is especially important when you have liver cancer because it can be difficult to treat. It is often accompanied by other diseases, has multiple side effects and may return after treatment. A follow-up care plan is designed to do the following.

  • Monitor treatment effectiveness
  • Watch for side effects and late effects
  • Treat other health complications
  • Screen for a recurrence or second cancers
  • Evaluate mental and emotional health
  • Provide palliative care

It is important to tell your doctor how you’re feeling physically, mentally and emotionally at follow-up appointments or sooner if something changes. Specific important information to share at these appointments includes the following.

  • New or ongoing pain that isn’t adequately relieved
  • New or ongoing physical symptoms, including leg swelling, abdominal distention, jaundice, weight loss or gain, bladder/bowel control; deep fatigue or insomnia; sexual dysfunction or lack of desire; mobility issues; signs of infection; tingling or numbness; fluid buildup; or changes in appetite, sense of taste, vision or hearing
  • Cognitive (thinking-related) symptoms, such as difficulties with memory, concentration, processing information, word-finding or completing tasks
  • Emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, fear, anger, grief, hopelessness, emotional numbness, feeling overwhelmed or other concerns
  • New medications, over-the-counter remedies, vitamins, supplements or herbs
  • Visits to the emergency room, urgent care or other doctors, even if not cancer-related
  • Any homeopathic or naturopathic therapies you have started

A follow-up care plan will also include instructions for maintenance medications; referrals for cancer rehabilitation services, such as physical or occupational therapy; information about your risk of a recurrence or second cancer; and recommended screening guidelines for other types of cancer.

Survivorship Care Programs

If treatment has ended and your doctor wants to continue monitoring you, a survivorship care program may be offered. Doctors are not required to give you a survivorship care plan, but cancer centers now provide survivorship educational programs about ongoing care. They can be helpful as you transition to life after treatment.

A survivorship care plan is designed to keep track of all pertinent information about your care and to guide you moving forward. The information may include your medical history, which may contain diseases, conditions or disorders, surgeries and treatments, hospitalizations, pregnancies, lab reports, test results and ongoing health medications; a list of health care team members with contact information; your specific diagnosis, including type, subtype, stage and date of diagnosis; and pathology and consultation notes. It may also include the tests you may need after treatment.

If the follow-up care plan you receive does not include recommendations for survivorship care, your doctor, nurse navigator or caseworker can help you make one. This information may also include referrals and ongoing support for emotional needs, side effects and late effects and any research that may be appropriate for you.

To help you create a personalized survivorship care plan, download a Survivorship Diagnosis Care Summary and Follow-up Care Plan.


Know Your Medications

The liver performs critical functions such as filtering the blood, processing and storing nutrients, converting nutrients into energy, removing toxins and maintaining proper sugar levels. So, preventing further damage to your liver will be crucial throughout and after treatment. That includes being careful about which medications and supplements you take in order to prevent interference with medications prescribed by your physicians or toxicity to your liver.

Ask your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications or supplements that you should avoid taking during or after treatment. A list of active ingredient names can help you identify these drugs.

One over-the-counter medication your doctor may tell you to avoid is acetaminophen because it may further damage your liver. Acetaminophen is a very common drug ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter medications. These include generic and store-brand pain relievers, fever reducers and sleep aids as well as cough, cold and allergy medicines. Acetaminophen may interact with your medications, increase side effects and further damage your liver if taken in large enough quantities. It may be easy to take too much without realizing it if you’re using multiple products containing this active ingredient. Ask your doctor if you can take medications that contain acetaminophen and, if so, how much.

Steps to follow:

  • Read all medicine labels and look at the active ingredient.
  • Find out if your doctor recommends any limit on the amount of acetaminophen.
  • Check the label for acetaminophen and its shorter versions “APAP” or “acetam.”
  • Ask your doctor how to read medication labels if you’re not familiar with them.
  • Check with your pharmacist every time you start, stop, change or fill a prescription.
  • Take your medicine as directed.
  • Use the same pharmacy each time so workers can help you keep track of what you’re taking.
  • Do not take medicine that has expired.
  • Do not take or share medicines with others.
  • Only take the recommended dose. Do not take more.
  • Refill your prescriptions before they run out.
  • Always keep a list of your current medications with you.
  • Take your medications with you when you travel.


Previous Next