Liver Disease Often Confused With Cancer

Diagnosed with cancer? You need to take further tests because it could be a liver-related complication being confused with cancer, says Dr Basant Mahadevappa, a liver transplant surgeon at Healthcare Global Enterprises Ltd (HCG hospital), India.

After carrying out a successful liver transplant on Fredrick Kiyingi, [see: “Kiyingi Cheats Death With His Son’s Liver” The Observer, July 16-17, 2014] Dr Mahadevappa led a group of specialists from the HCG hospital Bangalore, India to Kampala in mid July.

Their mission was to follow up on Kiyingi’s progress and to network with local doctors. This will culminate in the establishment of a multi-million-dollar clinic to handle complications related to internal body organs but with a bias in liver treatment.

“Liver problems are mainly confused with cancers because of the lack of the adequate equipment and technical expertise to detect and diagnose the problem. Many patients like [Kiyingi] are told that it is a cancer that cannot be treated,” said Mahadevappa on July 21 during a presentation to selected local doctors at Hotel Africana.

“In the past, liver diseases used to be the end game of a person but with proper diagnosis, a person with liver disease can be treated and he gets back to [good health],” Mahadevappa added.

Kiyingi’s story is one that surprised even Ugandan doctors because he had virtually been written off because there are limited experts in the sub Saharan Africa region on matters relating to liver treatment and transplantation. Mahadevappa, however, took about 12 hours to remove Kiyingi’s bad liver and replace it with a portion of his son Laurin Baalu’s good liver. Both have now regained their full livers, because the organ has the unique ability to regenerate.

“A liver has a capacity to regenerate, within three to four weeks, a donor will have regained his liver while the recipient requires about four to five weeks to have a fully- grown liver,” Mahadevappa told The Observer.


Cases of liver-related problems are reported to be on the increase in sub- Saharan Africa because of the increase in Hepatitis B and C. Both forms of Hepatitis are preventable, according to Dr Mahadevappa, but because there is little response from the African governments, the problem is on the rise.

“Africa has a huge problem of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and liver cancer. There is a delay in diagnosing these diseases therefore, treatment is delayed, but if diagnosed at an early stage, patients can receive better treatment and get cured,” Mahadevappa said.

“Hepatitis is preventable so long as one is vaccinated at birth I think this is a programme the government can take up and institute a policy for vaccinating children against hepatitis.”

Liver problems are also associated with alcohol and diabetes, but there are some cases whose cause has not yet been ascertained. At the HCG hospital in Bangalore, an average 55 to 60 cases of liver transplants are recorded every month from the East African region.

The procedure can cost as much as $60,000. Mahadevappa and his team are working on establishing a clinic in Kampala that will offer treatment and vaccination against hepatitis, aanced diagnostic tests and treatment of complications of the liver and other internal organs.

Source : The Observer

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