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ACS Research Highlights

Learning to Predict the Effects of Liver Cancer to Improve Care and Quality of Life

The Challenge

The number of liver cancer diagnoses and deaths from liver cancer are rising. People who don’t have access to routine medical care because of a low income or too little or no health insurance coverage may have the worst outcomes. They are more likely to have advanced-stage liver cancer at the time of diagnosis. They are also more likely to have advanced liver disease, such as cirrhosis.

<p>Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/The University of Texas Medical School at Houston Office of Communications Dr. Curtis Wray - Department of Surgery</p>

The Research

Curtis Wray, MD, and his team are collecting data from two hospitals that serve people with low incomes and people who have no or limited health insurance. They are using it to develop a model that will help predict which factors might affect survival in this high-risk group. Being able to better predict a prognosis may give these patients the ability to make more informed choices about their treatment.

For instance, a diagnosis of late-stage liver cancer often means there is no cure available, so patients may benefit more from palliative care to control and ease symptoms, which can improve their quality of life.

Wray is also looking at how the timing of palliative care affects the quality of life for patients in this study.

Why It Matters 

Wray’s model may help other healthcare facilities that provide care to cancer patients with low incomes and inadequate or no health insurance.