Fatigue and confusion
Extreme tiredness (fatigue) is a common side effect of liver cancer and its treatment. Confusion may also occur, but this is a rare side effect.
Many people with secondary liver cancer experience fatigue. This is different to feeling tired as it doesn’t always go away with rest or sleep. The fatigue may be a side effect of treatment or caused by the cancer itself.
For more on this, see Fatigue and cancer or listen to the podcast below.
Secondary liver cancer may cause toxic substances to build up in the blood, which can affect brain function. Called hepatic encephalopathy, this can lead to confusion or disorientation and, in severe cases, coma. Hepatic encephalopathy can be controlled with medicines.
Podcast: Managing Cancer Fatigue
Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT; A/Prof Siddhartha Baxi, Radiation Oncologist and Medical Director, GenesisCare, Gold Coast, QLD; Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director of Palliative Care, NSLHD Supportive and Palliative Care Network, Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Anne Dowling, Hepatoma Clinical Nurse Consultant and Liver Transplant Coordinator, Austin Health, VIC; A/Prof Koroush Haghighi, Liver, Pancreas and Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeon, Prince of Wales and St Vincent’s Hospitals, NSW; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Brett Knowles, Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary and General Surgeon, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and St Vincent’s Hospital, VIC; Lina Sharma, Consumer; A/Prof Simone Strasser, Hepatologist, AW Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and The University of Sydney, NSW; David Thomas, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment