3 Ways to Shatter the Stigma of Liver Cancer & Find Healing

October 26, 2023
Sunlight shining through Spring leaves

Managing a liver cancer diagnosis can be challenging, physically and emotionally. Feelings of stigma can make it harder to cope and heal. Here are 3 things you can do to reclaim power.


Many people living with liver cancer feel that they must explain the cause of their condition to others. If you are facing a liver cancer diagnosis, you may feel that you are unfairly judged because of the perceived links between liver cancer and alcohol or drug misuse. The feeling that society has these thoughts about you, even if they go unsaid, can be upsetting.

Liver cancer (also called hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC) can be accompanied by not only physical burdens, but also emotional ones. You may experience distress, grief, stress, depression, anxiety, or any combination of these feelings. These emotions are often amplified by the stigma that surrounds HCC. Stigma is a collection of negative or unfair ideas that society has about something.  

Stigma surrounding liver cancer stems from misconceptions and stereotypes associated with the disease. Many people lack information about liver cancer’s causes and risk factors. This leads to assumptions that HCC is a disease caused by reckless lifestyle choices and behaviors, like smoking, drinking heavily, or using drugs. These negative views can create feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation among people with liver cancer. This can make it harder to cope with a diagnosis and slow the healing process.  

You may be wondering, “But what can I do?” 

Three things you can do starting today are:

  1. Learn more
  2. Find support & connection
  3. Seek advocacy opportunities

1. Learn About Sources of Stigma Around Liver Cancer

Education plays a pivotal role in ending the stigma of liver cancer. It is essential to address misconceptions and raise awareness about the various risk factors — beyond lifestyle choices — that can lead to HCC. Hepatitis infections, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and simple genetics are just some examples of risk factors that have nothing to do with alcohol and drug misuse. By dispelling myths and promoting accurate information, you can foster empathy and understanding. This can reduce the stigma that hinders your healing.  


Coping with the stigma of liver cancer can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Focus on identifying what you can do to find support after a liver cancer diagnosis.


2. Turn to Others for Support & Connection

Coping with the stigma of liver cancer can be overwhelming. Finding support is crucial, whether through an in-person support group or an online community like MyLifeLine, our digital support community for people impacted by cancer. Connecting with other people who are living with HCC can provide a safe space for sharing your experiences and concerns and exchanging coping tips and strategies. Engaging with others who have faced similar challenges also reduces feelings of isolation and provides a sense of belonging. 

Mental health professionals can also play a huge role in helping you process your emotions. They can provide important tools for managing your feelings and perceptions about liver cancer. 


Did You Know?

CSC offers a variety of professionally led programs at no cost to anyone impacted by a cancer diagnosis, whether you are a patient, caregiver, friend, or loved one. We have 196 locations worldwide, with programs that include support groups, classes, and educational workshops.

Find a CSC Support Center Near You


3. Advocate in Your Community and Beyond

Advocacy is another powerful tool in combatting stigma. By sharing your story and experiences, you can promote accurate information about HCC and break down stigmas associated with the disease. 



You can also advocate by taking part in awareness campaigns and fundraisers or volunteering for organizations that support liver cancer research and patient care. 

By taking your personal experience and transforming it into a call for change, everyone can shift their narrative and be empowered to face their own battles and misconceptions about liver cancer. Understanding the sources of stigma, dispelling myths, seeking support, and advocating for awareness can help you and others affected by HCC reclaim power and find solace in healing.