For the media

Early detection of the most common type of liver cancer

By The Health News Team | May 31, 2024
Hoa Van Nguyen  of San Diego

Hoa Van Nguyen was treated at Sharp Memorial Hospital for the most common type of liver cancer.

Hoa Van Nguyen, age 73, thought his health was fine. Sometimes, he would get tired after working out at the gym, but he didn’t think it was a big issue.

In 2023, during a visit with his primary care doctor, Hoa received an alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test due to having a history of hepatitis B, a serious liver infection. Hoa’s test result showed his AFP level was high, which can be an early sign of liver cancer.

Concerned, Hoa went to Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s emergency room, where he underwent various exams, including an ultrasound, CT and MRI. At the hospital, he learned he had hepatocellular carcinoma — the most common type of liver cancer.

Hepatocellular carcinoma is the seventeenth most common diagnosis among all cancers and the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

“The news was unbelievable,” says Hoa. “I felt like the whole sky was falling.”

Hoa’s anxiety about his cancer diagnosis began to decrease, however, when he went to the Sharp Memorial Hospital Advanced Digestive Health Clinic and met Dr. Marquis Hart, a board-certified surgeon affiliated with Sharp Memorial Hospital. Dr. Hart explained that Hoa needed to have surgery to remove the tumor in the middle of his liver’s left lobe, known as segment 4A. He assured Hoa that he felt the surgery would be an effective approach to treating his cancer.

“A surgical removal was possible because Mr. Nguyen’s liver cancer was detected early,” says Dr. Hart. “This is unlike many people who learn they have hepatocellular carcinoma when it has already started to spread, as it is an aggressive type of cancer.”

Hoa underwent surgery in November 2023 and says he felt well upon waking up. This, he says, was partly due to feeling cared for by his nurses, who encouraged him in his recovery. “I wanted to share my story because I could see that Sharp’s care team is committed to supporting their patients,” says Hoa.

Hoa now sees Dr. Igor Medic, an oncologist affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group and Sharp Grossmont, for a check-up every three months. He is doing well and enjoys reading books and walking in the park.

“Life is beautiful,” he says. “I get to play guitar, sing songs and see my friends. I am so thankful that Sharp helped me detect my cancer and get treated.”

Learn more about services at the Sharp Memorial Hospital Advanced Digestive Health Clinic; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News; and subscribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking the "Sign up" link below.

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