Liver/lymph/bile duct cancer

A relative has recently been diagnosed with the above cancer(s), currently awaiting advice re: possible chemotherapy. We've been advised prognosis is 6-12 months without treatment and possibly 12-18 months with chemotherapy. Is chemotherapy a positive/realistic option given potential side effects v benefits?

  • Hello Carel,  and thank you for posting.

    I am sorry to learn about your relative, this must be a difficult time for you all.  

    When treatment is planned, several things are looked at such as the size of the tumour, how far it has spread (stage), and how well a person is generally, whether they have other health conditions. The doctors will weigh the benefits against any side effects.

    Although when the cancer has spread it cannot unfortunately be cured, chemotherapy may sometimes be recommended as in your relatives' situation to try and shrink the cancer, to help with symptoms like pain and help prolong a person's life, for some people it can be beneficial.

    If your relative is worried about the chemotherapy, it is worth them talking things through with their specialist or nurse specialist (CNS) and what the options are, they can always decide not to have treatment, or try the treatment and stop if the side effects are too much. One question to ask the team is if they choose not to have treatment, how will symptoms be managed, and will they be referred to the palliative care team.

    I hope this helps a little, please feel free to get back to us if you need any more information or support.  You may find it helpful to talk things through with one of the nurses on our helpline.  The number to call is Freephone 0808 800 4040 and the lines are open from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday.

    Yours sincerely,