Oakwood Solicitors

Liver Cancer

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What is Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer starts in the cells of the liver. The liver’s main function is to produce bile that then breaks down fats, vitamins and other nutrients as well as alcohol, medications and toxins.

Liver cancer is broken down into two main types:

Primary Liver Cancer 

it is uncommon but a serious type of cancer. It often starts as a lump in the liver but multiple lumps can form. Various primary cancers can form:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma – This accounts for 75% of all cancers. It grows in the hepatocytes of the liver and occurs more often in people with severe liver damage from alcohol abuse.
  • Cholangiocarcinoma – This is also known as bile duct cancer. The bile ducts are responsible for taking bile from the gallbladder to the liver to aid digestion. It makes up 10-20% of liver cancers.
  • Intrahepatic bile cancer – This is when the cancer starts in the bile duct.
  • Extrahepatic bile duct cancer – This is when cancer starts in the ducts outside of the liver.
  • Liver Angiosarcoma – It begins in the blood vessels of the liver. It is relatively slow and therefore tends to be diagnosed later.
  • Hepatoblastoma – This is a very rare type of cancer and is found in children under the age of 3. If the cancer is diagnosed quickly then the survival rate if over 90%.
  • Secondary liver cancer – This is where the cancer develops in another organ and then spreads to the liver.

What are the Symptoms of Liver Cancer?

There are a variety of symptoms of liver cancer, such as:

  • Weight loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Feeling full after eating.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Lethargy.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Jaundice of the skin and whites of the eyes.
  • Bruising or bleeding easily.
  • Swelling in the middle region.
  • White stools.



Who is Affected?

  • There are over 5500 new cases each year.
  • It is more common in men.
  • It affects people over the age of 65 and is rare under the age of 45.

What are the Causes?

There are certain factors that increase the risk of getting liver cancer:

  • Being over 50 years of age.
  • Hepatitis B or C infection – This can damage the liver and make a person more prone to liver cancer. It can be passed during childbirth or through bodily fluids of an infected person.
  • Alcohol – Prolonged alcohol consumption over many years.
  • Fatty Liver – Non-alcoholic related fatty liver disease carries and increased chance of developing liver cancer. 25% of people with non-alcoholic related fatty liver with go on to develop cancer.
  • Cirrhosis – This is where the liver is damaged and produced scar tissue which then does not work to it full ability. This then can lead to liver cancer.
  • Diabetes and obesity – This can cause liver issues.
  • Anabolic steroids – Usage over a period of time.
  • Haemochromatosis– A genetic disorder where iron levels build up.
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis– A long-term liver disease in which the bile ducts in the liver become damaged.



How is it Diagnosed?

The first step is to visit your GP for further tests. If there is a suspicion about liver cancer then you would be referred to a specialist.

Certain groups may be considered high risk and therefore have to have regular screening. It usually happens every 6 months and would involve:

  • Ultrasound scans
  • Blood tests – to test for a protein called AFP or Alphafetoprotein.

Other tests may include:

  • CT scans – X rays would be taken of the liver
  • MRI Scans – to build up a picture of the liver
  • Biopsy – a needle attached to a camera is inserted into the liver and a small sample is removed. It is then tested for cancer cells
  • Laparoscopy – a camera is inserted into the abdomen to examine the liver

After these tests are done, the patient will be advised of what stage of the cancer they are at:

  • Stage 0 – Tumour is less than 2cm in diameter.
  • Stage A – Tumour is less than 5cm, or two or three are there at less than 3cm.
  • Stage B – Multiple tumours but the person is well and their liver is unaffected.
  • Stage C – Cancer has started to spread to the main blood vessel of the liver.
  • Stage D – The liver has lost most of its functioning abilities.



How is Liver Cancer Treated?

Treatment depends on the stage of the condition. It usually involves surgery or medication, or both.

If the cancer is at Stage A, then a complete cure may be possible:

  • Remove the section of the liver.
  • Liver transplant – To remove and replace the existing liver.
  • Use microwave, radiofrequency or RFA to kill the cancer cells.

There are potential problems following surgery for liver cancer, for example:

  • Bleeding.
  • Bile leakage.
  • Kidney issues.
  • Urine infections.
  • Blood clots.
  • Liver failure.

If the cancer is at stage B or C then a cure is not always possible, but the chemotherapy can slow down the progress of the cancer. If the cancer is at stage D when diagnosed then palliative care is more likely.

How Do I Make a Claim?

If you feel that there has been a delay in your diagnosis or implementing treatment as a result of the actions of a medical professional, then you may be entitled to compensation.  The team at Oakwood Solicitors will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

You have three years from the date you ought to have been aware that your diagnosis should have been made sooner or from the date you ought to have been aware that treatment should have been different, to bring about a claim – so do not delay.

How Long Will My Case Take to Run?

Given the complexities involved in pursuing Clinical Negligence claims, they can often take 18-24 months to conclude and longer if Court proceedings have to be issued.

Our investigations start by obtaining all relevant records and protocols before approaching independent medical experts for their opinion.  We will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

How Much is My Claim Worth?

It is often difficult to value Clinical Negligence claims at their outset, given the complexities involved. However, we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

  • Firstly – we will pursue compensation known as general damages. This is an award of money for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.
  • Secondly – we will pursue compensation known as special damages. This is an award of money for all of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel expenses, medication costs, loss of earnings, treatment costs both past and future. This list is not exhaustive and is very case specific.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd


Why Use Oakwood Solicitors to Make Your Clinical Negligence Case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of Clinical Negligence.

We want to ensure that Clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon, medical terms that they don’t understand and to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

How is My Case Funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a “no win no fee” agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost. If you are successful in your claim a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations. If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point.

The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites:

  • British Liver Trust (BLT) – Funded by donations, BLT support patients and families and campaign to improve awareness of the risks to the liver and fund research in to the causes and treatments of liver disease.
  • Guts UK – Dedicated to fighting all digestive diseases, they aim for the world to understand these diseases better and to improve treatment and support for everyone affected by digestive diseases, such as liver cancer.


If you still have questions or wish to make a claim for Medical Negligence in your case, get in touch today for a free initial consultation in complete confidence. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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