Much attention during the month of October, and rightly so, is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness, but it's also Liver Awareness Month. The liver is a vital organ. It filters toxins from the blood, stores nutrients and helps the body digest food by producing bile. Cancer of the liver doesn't have to be a death sentence, caught early, specialists at the Avera Center for Liver Disease can do surgery to remove the diseased part. .
Avera Transplant Surgeon Dr. Tariq Khan with the Avera Center for Liver Disease specializes in Hepatobiliary Surgery which are surgeries that deal with the liver, gallbladder, and the common bile duct.
Dr. Khan says, "If you know a lesion on the liver is cancerous, you can go in and take that part of the liver out and it will regenerate. You'd be surprised how much liver disease there is in this state. Sometimes people who have colon cancer can have a single lesion on the liver. Unfortunately, there are people out there that think once cancer has spread to the liver it means it's all over. That's not necessarily true. The patients survival improves even after the liver lesion is taken off. So once you have the colon surgery to take care of the primary cancer, we can go and carver out the cancer in the liver and it does impact the patients survival for the better."
Dr. Khan says once liver disease gets to the point of cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, the liver can no longer function. Without a liver transplant the patient will die. That's why Dr. Khan wants to get people before that happens. If you are over 40 have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and are overweight he urges you to get your liver enzymes checked.
Dr. Khan says, "We see young people with liver disease that could have been taken care of 4 or 5 years ago that are dying."
Learn to love your liver, and you could live a lot longer.
Avera is currently in the planning stages of expanding its Center for Liver Disease to include liver transplants.