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Liver Int. 2012 Jan;32(1):21-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-3231.2011.02629.x. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Should cirrhosis change our attitude towards treating non-hepatic cancer?

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Sezione di Gastroenterologia, DIBIMIS, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.


Cirrhosis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality and is the end stage of any chronic liver disease. Cancer, a leading cause of death worldwide, is a growing global health issue. There are limited data in the literature on the incidence, prevalence and management of non-hepatic cancers (NHC) in cirrhotic patients. The aim of this brief review was to underline the main concerns, pitfalls and warnings regarding practice for these patients. Survival of patients with compensated cirrhosis is significantly longer than that of decompensated cirrhosis and patients with NHC and in Child-Pugh class C should not be candidates for cytotoxic chemotherapy. It is important before starting cytotoxic chemotherapy to assess the aetiology and stage of liver disease and to screen these patients for portal hypertension and fluid retention. During cytotoxic chemotherapy, the effectiveness of cancer treatment, as well the appearance of early signs of hepatic decompensation, must be thoroughly monitored. Future phase 3 trial designs in oncology should include a share of patients with compensated cirrhosis to obtain specific information in this setting. Identification of tests able to measure the global degree of hepatic impairment caused by cirrhosis could help in the management of this particular clinical situation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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