British Liver Trust

Liver cysts

Hi, I had an Ultrasound followed by a CT Scan back in November 2014 after several bouts of right side pain, tenderness, bloated feeling, but also back, side and rib discomfort, nausea, generally feeling unwell. As I am having breast cancer treatment (I had 2 ops, 6 months Chemo, 3 weeks Radiotherapy followed by 5-10 years of Hormone drug therapy, I'm only 2 years on now from this), my Breast cancer nurse arranged the scans asap. Liver cysts was the diagnosis, they said there are several there and to be aware of further issues. I have coped with flare ups since then, but since October last year (2015) it's been more or less constant symptoms. I'm having another yearly mammogram in Feb, and thought I might mention it while at the Breast clinic, as I have no appointments before then. I worry that there's more liver cysts, or they've changed in some way, or it might be something more sinister. So many of the Breast cancer ladies I chat to have had spread to their liver, lungs, bones so I'm always wondering. I did have breathing /heart issues which showed up as Asthma and Chemo damage. Can anyone help with advice or experience of Liver Cysts please?

Thank you, Mich x

4 Replies

Your CT scan of the liver was November 2014, over a year ago, is that right? When you were told they had found "cysts" did a radiologist expert in livers tell you this, or was it your GP or your breast cancer team. I'm just curious as to who looked at the liver scan and made the judgement they were cysts. What were the "further issues" they warned about?

The most accurate scan for diagnosing cancer tumours in the liver is an MRI or a PET scan coupled with an alphafetoprotein blood test. I think you are right to be wanting to be sure they are not metastatic from the breast cancer. Can you ask your GP to refer you for a liver MRI and an AFP blood test to reassure you.

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Thank you Bolly for the helpful advice. As I remember, it was a young lady radiographer that did the US, and she said it looks like you have several simple cysts on your liver which are probably benign. My mum was sat nearby watching as I couldn't see the screen and she told me afterwards that she could see them from where she was. Not really knowing everything that I do now, I never questioned it although I had a few doubts lingering. By further issues I meant that any more symptoms or further ongoing ones I had already. It's only now I'm feeling blah all the time with the constant discomfort/occasional pains, that I'm wondering who to speak to first. If I ask for this AFP blood test does the go do it and then refer for MRI? What also concerns me is that those of us who had b/c that spread to the lymph nodes (I had left side nodes removed with some positive), not everyone had MRI or PET scans of the body to rule out spread anywhere, in which case who knows if it has until you feel rubbish? It seems a bit of a lottery to me? I am at the gp on Monday for my Mum, so I will make myself an appt and see what they say. Have you had the liver cysts also?

Cheers, Mich x


I take back what i said about the AFP blood test, as it's a tumour marker for primary liver cancer and what you are concerned about is secondary liver cancer. I think what is done for possible metastatic tumours is what they all "bio markers" and these are different depending on the type of original breast cancer, ie metastatic cancer is the same cancer as the original source, just elsewhere in the body. So something like a CEA or HER2 is what to ask the GP about.

Despite having had 5 years of imaging for cancer diagnosis and monitoring, I"m still not confident I know the difference between and radiographer and radiologist. I think a radiographer is a technician who does the scans and a radiographer is a specialist in interpreting them. If the only feedback you got from the scan where the cysts were found was from a radiographer, I would be asking to see the written report, as statements such as "it looks like" and "probably benign" are not a professional diagnosis of whether something is cancerous or not. It does take some training and skill to differentiate between lesions, cysts, nodules and tumour on the liver. I had HCC primary liver cancer 5 years ago and am still having MRI scans with contrast dye to make a correct assessment as to whether I am cancer free. That's why I am on this liver forum, as I have liver disease.

If there has been no follow up since 2014 you have no idea if the "cysts" have got bigger, or increased in number, or if they were not cysts at all. I can understand that the medics might assume your liver had been damaged by the chemo etc, and perhaps they were implying the cysts were as a result of that treatment. But if you don't feel well, and you have a history of cancer, I would be straight back to a sympathetic GP to get thoroughly checked out and reassured.

Good luck, and here's wishing you a healthy 2016.


Thanks so much, your advice is much appreciated. Here's to a happy and healthy 2016 for you. 🎉💖


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