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End-Stage Liver Cancer

My father is 78.  He was diagnosed with prostate cancer 6 years ago and treated it with radiation.  The cancer reappeared a few years later as colon cancer and he had a section of his colon and his gall bladder removed.  About a year ago the cancer surfaced again, this time as liver cancer with spots detected in his stomach and lungs as well.  We have known for some time that the cancer is terminal.  My dad has been on chemo. until recently, in hopes of extending his life.

Last week he was feeling particularly weak and went to his doctor.  His doctor detected jaundice and further tests revealed that the cancer has progressed throughout his liver and lungs.  He has begun to retain water and is sleeping more.  I understand that these are symptoms of liver failure.  The doctors told us that there is nothing more they can do and estimate he has only a few weeks left.  They have stopped all medications (except for nausea, pain, and diarretic meds).

We took my father home and immediately setup hospice care for him.  I'm trying to learn what we can expect over the next few weeks so that I can help my family prepare for it and make my father as comfortable as possible for as long as we're blessed to have him.  Can anyone help guide me on what we can expect to happen as this progresses?  I've read about the possibility of the loss of cognitive function, random hand movement, and even water seeping from body tissues.  But all that the doctors have told us is that my father will sleep more and more until he eventually falls asleep and never wakes up.  While that's a comforting thought, I suspect the reality is somewhat different (I lost someone to luekemia and lymphoma, and know what that's like).  Any help or pointers to websites would be appreciated.

Thank you.
108 Responses
Avatar universal
My father has liver cancer too and although he is not quite at your father's stage yet, rest assured your Dad should go peacefully and with relatively no pain.  The doctors are right.  I know of 2 people whose parents each died the same way. It is quite accurate about the poor appetite and sleeping more.  He will be just tired all the time and won't want to get out of bed.  Once he hits that point, making him comfortable in his surroundings and with people he loves will probably make him feel safe and ready.  That's the best gift that you can give.
If you find a website that describes this end stage, let me know too.  
Avatar universal
My dad took 2 weeks to die he slept more and more but had periods where he was awake and very aware of his surrounding we would talk to him and tell him how much we loved him. He was on a Morphine pump for pain and had regular visits from the hospice nurses at first when we got him home he was eating a little then stopped completely. We would wet the inside of his mouth with special sponges on a stick to moist his mouth as they get very dry sometimes he would suck on this. We also put salve on his lips to keep them most. he always felt warm to the touch but in his last few hours we noticed that his arms and body were cold when we touch him. Spent as much time with your daD TELL HIM ALL YOU WANT TO TELL HIM BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.
Avatar universal
I lost my husband a year ago July 29, to lung, brain, spine, bone, and finally liver cancer. He went very quickly 12 weeks from diagnosis to death. The last few days he didn't eat, was incontinent, and the day before death he was hallucinating, and paranoid, either from the brain tumors or morphine. He finally fell into a coma around midnight, and died the next morning. His hands and feet were very cold to the touch at the end. I agree with above poster, tell him you love him, and just make him comfortable. Do not be afraid to medicate him as much as he needs to be comfortable. My husbands last few days appeared to be relativly comfortable, and not as painful as we had expected . I also cared for him at home with Hospice help, what a wonderful caring organization. Unfortunately his paranoia made him afraid of the visiting nurse, so we surrounded him with family members. My prayers are with you. If you are the one caring for him, remember to talk with him too, I was so busy doing the physical caring, that I didn't spend enough time just loving him. God Bless.
Avatar universal
My dad -age 66- was diagnosed with secondary liver cancer last June. Since then he has received various drug combinations (chemotherapy) but unfortunatly he is getting worse by the day. Especially this last week he feels very weak and tired, he can hardly walk and all of a sudden I see the end comming fast. I am having great difficulty dealing with the whole situation and I have so many unanswered questions of what to expect. am hopping there will be the least possible pain and that I will be strong enough for my whole family and for him. I can only wish you to be strong and may god be with us all.
Avatar universal
thankyou to all with this liver cancer i can not take to much morr e of th e demands on the people they leave behind
i'am angry and left with a 9 year old son to llok after
all the best and pray's are all with you all
Avatar universal
My father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer last September 2007, underwent surgery to remove the 25 cm growth, and was found to have liver cancer as well.  Since my father also has endstage renal failure, chemotherapy would only have hastened his death.  Last week, the doctors did another CT scan and saw that the cancer had spread to his stomach and his lungs. (My father had recently begun complaining about stomach pain.)  My father is now on palliative care, with prescribed pain reliever patches.  He still is in some pain, but not as much as before.  He gets tired really easily.  We have him at home, and we have two private nurses to help us care for him.  Although it hurts so much to see my dear father in such pain, the only thing we can really do is keep him comfortable, minimize his pain, keep him feeling loved and worry-free.  We do not know how long he will last, although the doctors have told us to start getting ready for his demise.
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