Mum has lumps on liver- info needed please

Hi,

Hoping someone can help. My mum has been having investigations into liver function since the summer- various tests and scans. She is alcohol dependent and hasn't been very communicative about the results of the tests, except to say that she has a fatty liver with scarring (word 'cirrhosis' not used). She won't allow me to go with her to the hospital.

It came out this week that she had been called in for the results of her latest scan as a matter of urgency (she had an appointment due end feb). All I managed to glean from her was that she has 2 lumps on her liver about 2cm each and they are going to 'heat blast' them (I'm presuming that is the radiofrequency ablation?) whilst performing a biopsy, date to be arranged. She says she'll be in overnight.

My question for anyone who can help through knowledge and experiences, is is it likely that these lumps are cancerous? From what I gather the heat blast RFA is a treatment for cancer. So are they presuming they are cancerous or just being cautious? Or what else can they be? It seems that there aren't many possibilities for lumps in the liver.

Any help gratefully appreciated. My mum isn't telling me a lot but I know that's because she isn't asking questions herself- she has always been very head in the sand about most things. She also has COPD and is very unhealthy generally and I'm just very very worried. I know that until there are biopsy results (I'm going to beg to go along with her) we can't know much... ahh. Someone save me from Dr Google!!

16 Replies

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  • Hi, its a pity your mum won't really tell you everything, but in regard to the lumps on her liver, you could be right; but only your mum can confirm everything or her specialist; if she gives her consent or allows you to come to the next appointment. Is she still drinking? If so, i'm sure she will have been advised to stop altogether from the sounds of the damage so far; as things will only get worse should she continue. I would try and find a way to go with her the next time; it must be awful for you re worrying etc and not knowing everything. Sorry I cannot be of more help. How old is she if you don't mind my asking?

  • Hello I understand your concerns, starting last January, I live in France and was on my 3rd move in a year, I various tests ordered by my new doctor and was told last summer I have 2 lumps on my liver, both are benign and not alcohol related, although I did drink before, not heavily except for a short period of time, so have had numerous blood tests, mri's and a fibroscan. I was also told I had 'portal hypertension' a swollen belly almost, not a lot but bigger than I am normally. I was also told thany 'scarring' of the liver they call cirrhosis - and of we all think of alcohol don't we when we hear that word, but its not laways necessarily so.

    So not cance or alcoholdrelated for me - but your mum is probably frightened out of her wits imagining the worst, as perhaps you are. I also in the last 2 years have had other health problems, which may be related, including a thyroid problem. Perhap another gentle talk with your mum may get her to open up to you and tell you what the doctors have said to her. I hope so for both your sake, because family support will be helpful to her while she continues with her tests. Mine are ongoing also, next mri and blood test in March as they are checking several things for known conditions I have. Apparently I'm a bit of a puzzle to them - as I am to me.

    Although I have symptoms that could fit 2 or 3 of them, the french wording on some tests seem different to what people quote here on the forums, so can't quote blood test results cos I'm not certain what doctors are looking for! Onwards and upwards.

  • The link below may help you and others to understand the condition, portal hypertension. The cause can be for a variety of reasons which will determine treatment. Did they find out what caused your cirrhosis? It would help to know in case there is anything you could do to actively curb further discomfort from ascites and damage to your liver.

    You might have already read information regarding this, but I hope it helps. Along with any medications the doctor may give you to ease the pressure on your portal vein/ scarred liver looking at lifestyle changes to ease the stress on the liver can help...it is an amazing organ for regenerative powers when it is not busy dealing with daily toxins from our environment and diet, for example. The Hep C Trust website also gives loads of good advice that I have followed especially related to diet which have eased my symptoms regarding Hepatitis C.

    merckmanuals.com/home/liver...

  • Thank you susieanna and SAMBS for your prompt and kind responses. To answer you susieanna my mum is 63 and is still drinking. Apparently she was going to not drink Monday but got the phone call from the specialist.... She has drank everyday for 15 plus years. In the last 2 years she has tried to cut back, had a couple of occasions of not drinking for a couple of weeks, but always returns. She has an appointment with an alcohol specialist next week. She has has had such before and not continued with the counselling. I have tried everything but of course nothing has worked- I have 2 small children (4 and 1) that she adores, and she will stay sober to spend an afternoon with them. Difficult.

    I am confused as to the information she is passing on. I thought perhaps she wasn't getting much info from the specialist (she was new??) but maybe she just isn't passing that on to me. I do try to talk to her gently- I think, I hope she knows I'm there for her. We speak every other day on the phone And she lives 10 mins away. I just do think she is still hiding from the truth somewhat.

    I'm glad SAMBS that your lumps were benign. I wish you luck with your tests and treatment.

  • sorry to hear about your mum. But this doesnt sound very good at all. It is likely cirrhosis, with cirrhosis you chances of liver cancer are huge and the fact they are burning them out indicates cancer, if they were benign they wouldnt be burning them. further drinking will cause more cirrhosis, she must stop completely

  • Your welcome, worried girl; I agree with Sambs re a 'gentle talk' and family support is important all round; I also agree with Ralph re her stopping completely; She is still quite young; does she have symptoms like ascites, the swollen belly? Considering she has drank every day for 15 years; once she sees the alcohol specialist; detox and then perhaps immediate rehab is needed? She probably wont want to do it; but 6 months away, with proper treatment/ therapy for her alcohol issues will give her a good chance of keeping off drink forever. Should it ever be the case that she needs a liver transplant (and she is still drinking); she will be refused one. She must stop totally in order to even be considered. Death from cirrhosis is horrendous; if this is then cirrhosis, if its still compensated and she ceases drinking totally and forever; the outlook is more positive, as further damage will cease; I hope she opens up more to you and can get through this terrible illness.

  • Yes she does have a swollen belly and ankles- but she has been overweight for years so difficult to see the swelling as separate to her obesity. She's coming round later so I'll try to talk to her again- but she tends to change the subject when I ask. Over the years I have tried so many different ways to get her to accept that she needs help but none have worked. She lives alone, which I think makes it easier for her. I hope the alcohol specialist helps next week. I think as she just drinks wine, she doesn't see herself as an alcoholic? I've told her she has to be totally honest with them, so hopefully she will, this time.

    I am fortunate in that she doesn't have a computer and can't use the internet (no mobile even!!) so I can be free in what I say without fear of her stumbling upon my posts.

    I feel that the past couple of days my anger at her is dispersing and I'm just overwhelmingly sad.

    She says she doesn't want me to visit her when she is staying overnight for her biopsy/ heat blasting, but I think I'll try to go anyway. I think she'll need someone, even if she won't admit it.

    Thank you for listening.

  • I cannot comment on the lumps but if she eventually requires a liver transplant she will be extremely fortunate to receive one if she continues drinking. Donor livers are in short supply and are not readily available so they are not wasted on people who continue drinking alcohol. She should stop drinking immediately.

  • " I think as she just drinks wine, she doesn't see herself as an alcoholic? " this is a pattern im now seeing all the time, its very upsetting because people dont realise just how strong wine is most are 14% now, 11 units a bottle! You can soon rack up the units, i used to drink about 4-6 bottles a week, thats 44 - 66 units ! ok it doesnt sound like major alcoholism, but this builds up over time. if your mum was consuming 1 bottle a day thats 77 units, over 15 years this will cause major harm in some way, also as you get older you liver is less able to process it, your metabolism is slowing down and it gets stored in the liver as fat and the fat then causes it to swell and scar and you dont even feel it! she has to stop immediately, not one more drink ever

  • I know Ralph, I have been telling her for many years.

    Just to update she has opened up to me today and told me that it is cancer. So there you are- at least we know what the lumps are. She has also admitted to still drinking a bottle a day (which is a big cut down for her). I have tried everything over the years to get her to stop (even to the extent of guilt trips over leaving her grandchildren) and if being told she has cancer won't stop her, then really what will?

    She is also saying I can come to her next appointment which is good at least so I know where we are and what we are facing.

    Thanks all for your help/support/info.

  • so sorry to have missed yesterdays replies worried girl, and now just seen your tonight's post . I am so sorry to hear its cancer, some information is better than no information from her, which leaves you in a position to be able to give the relevant support to her. If you want to visit on her overnight stay before biopsy, personally I say go, I'm sure once she sees you she'll be pleased you are there - I know I would be!

    Please do come back on the forum if you need to express your feelings or get those questions off your chest. I wish I had better words of comfort and help for you. take care and a virtual hug to you, Shirley xx

    Sorry have to go out now but will be back online later.

  • Hello Worriedgirl....What a lovely daughter you are-your Mum is very lucky to have you, and you seem like you have great patience and understanding with her-well done!!! :-) The only person that can stop your Mum drinking is HERSELF and I think you know that already...... Alcoholism is such an awful illness-and she probably is in total denial about the fact that it is the drinking that has caused this :-( - I am really sorry to hear that your Mums lumps ARE cancer, but at least she has now opened up to you, and is going to let you go with her-she WILL need you there....My advice is to you, if you get a chance Google Al-anon (it is for familys affected by alcoholism) and find out where your nearest group is- I am sure you will find them very welcoming and they will have some good advice-not to make your Mum stop drinking (like I said only she can do that) but to help you deal with what YOU are going through. Take care now - you are in my thoughts xxx

  • Hi worried girl ; oh dear; but at least she has opened up to you; she MUST STOP DRINKING; i agree, she seems to be in denial, but she needs help now, but can only be helped if she wants to be; i recommend detox (if needed); but more importantly long term, i think 6 months rehab would do her good / counselling and therapy; though it sounds like it would be very hard getting her to go and commit to it; i hope she listens to the alcohol counsellor and her consultant now, otherwise her future is bleak. Take good care. xx

  • I can tell it has been really tough on you trying to help your mother who has developed cirrhosis due to her alcohol dependence. Only she can stop drinking that is her decision and her responsibility. Just as it is her decision to seek help/treatment for her health issues. All you can do is be there for her if she lets you. She is probably confused and scared so having a hand to hold will probably be a start. In the meantime, and this is just my opinion...I would arm myself with as much knowledge regarding her conditions like you are doing but from a NHS liver specialist as well...this information may help you to understand and possibly guide your mother in the right direction to make better choices later on...However, dark spots/lumps on liver will have to be investigated further when she has her treatment as you wrote about, to determine what they are (cancerous, benign ...). When you visit her in hospital try to do it when her liver specialist is visiting so you can find out for yourself what her condition/prognosis is. Alcoholism is a terrible disease in itself which only your mother can do something about...I only hope she has not left it too late. She is lucky to have such a caring daughter.

  • Thank you for your comments- I feel really touched by everyone's help and support. I will keep the thread updated when I know more- still no news of dates of appointments yet. Fingers crossed she'll get help. And I'm definatley going to go to Al Anon- I've struggled to find time to go before but I think I need the help now.

    Take Care all x

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