Following former President Jimmy Carter’s recent diagnosis of liver cancer, Dr. Parvez Mantry, Medical Director for The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas, had the pleasure of speaking with Fox 4 News to give an expert opinion on what may be next for him. Both Fox 4 News and Dr. Mantry emphasized that, while something was detected when removing a piece of the liver, there is no confirmation as to what type of liver cancer President Carter may have, and we are all operating purely on speculation at this point.
Dr. Mantry gave an overview of the two main types of liver cancer: primary liver cancer, also known as chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and secondary liver cancer wherein the cancer has spread to the liver from another organ. From the current details, his belief is that President Carter suffers from secondary liver cancer, but we have no verification. Dr. Mantry went on to say that colon, stomach, esophageal and pancreatic cancer are often spread to the liver as the liver is the largest filter and digestive organ in the body, receiving blood for detoxification from the gastrointestinal tract.
When asked if there were any symptoms that President Carter might have experienced prior to diagnosis, Dr. Mantry explains that most patients with liver cancer often have no symptoms, leading to diagnosis at a later stage of the disease. Because the liver is such a large organ, its functionality is rarely hindered by disease, leaving any symptoms to be experienced in the primary organ where the disease stemmed from. Those patients who experience weight loss and/or jaundice are most likely at an advanced stage of liver disease.
Fox 4 News went on to ask what treatment options may be available and how President Carter may be affected by those treatments, especially due to his age. Dr. Mantry stated that treatment options would depend on several factors including the stage of the cancer, whether it is confined to a specific organ or has spread, and, finally, the cell type. Chemotherapy is one of the currently available targeted treatments. Response to targeted treatments will depend on performance status and age. At 90 years old, President Carter is still very physically active which may allow his body to withstand cancer treatments, but they will still take a toll in comparison to those at a younger age.
Finally, Dr. Mantry was asked if there are any tests or screenings that people should be receiving to diagnose these types of cancers. He expressed that, although there are surveillance tests for those at high risk, they are typically for specific diseases such as colon cancer and prostate cancer. While President Carter does have a family history of pancreatic cancer, he believes that it would have been diagnosed at a younger age. Adequate surveillance strategies for liver cancer have yet to be developed according to Dr. Mantry.
In conclusion, both Dr. Mantry and Fox 4 News wished President Carter the very best and will continue to update their findings as more information about the diagnosis is released. Find more information on liver cancer diagnosis and treatment at The Liver Institute of Methodist Dallas.