Treatment for liver cancer varies from stage to stage. It is also dependent on other major factors like how much liver is affected? Has it spread to other organs? What does patients prefer and his/her overall health. Various kinds of Liver cancer treatments include surgery, tumor ablation, tumor embolization, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy.
If the cancerous tumor is detected in the initial stage with a healthy liver condition, doctors try to remove or eliminate the cancerous cells using a surgery. However, if the tumor has reached an advanced stage, treatment for Liver cancer includes a combination of options like chemotherapy, radiation treatment and may be a surgery.
Surgery is the primary treatment for Liver cancer when the tumor is in the initial stage and hasn’t much affected liver’s overall health. Surgical procedure involves removal of the tumor along with the surrounding healthy tissue.
Surgeries are of two types:
- This type of surgery is performed only if the cancer has affected only one part of the liver while the other part is working well.
- The procedure involves removing a portion of liver. Over time, the remaining healthy tissue regrows and replaces the missing part.
- Doctors do not recommend Hepatectomy as the treatment for liver cancer if the patient is having advanced cirrhosis issues.
2. Liver transplant
- This is the second type of surgical treatment for liver cancer that involves replacing the diseased liver with a healthy liver from a donor.
- A transplant is usually done if the cancer hasn’t spread to other organs. Treatment for liver cancer with a transplant is rare due to low availability of donors.
- It is important to note that transplant doesn’t guarantee a successful treatment for liver cancer.
- Doctors keep a close check on the patients for the signs of rejection of the new liver by the body.
- The patient is advised to take the medication properly to prevent the rejection. Also, there are chances of re-growth of the tumor.
2. Radiation Therapy
- High-powered energy sources like X-rays and protons in the form of radiations are used in this treatment for Liver cancer to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.
- There are two ways to deliver radiation- external beam radiation or by internal radiation.
- While internal radiation involves a catheter to inject little radioactive spheres into the hepatic artery, in the external beam radiation, the radiation is aimed at the abdomen and chest.
- This treatment can be risky for the healthy tissue due to the charged radiation beams.
3. Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
- This radiation therapy involves several beams of high dose radiation coming from different angles to target precisely at one point in the patient's body taking a shorter time than above therapy.
- While undergoing Radiation therapy, you need to get plenty of rest and follow a nutritious diet.
- Eating healthy during and after cancer therapy can help you manage all the side effects, fight infection, rebuild healthy tissue and maintain body weight and energy.
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- This is the type of treatment for liver cancer where strong anti-cancer drugs are directly supplied to the liver.
- The medicines could be taken either orally, or it may be delivered via a catheter or intravenous line directly into the bloodstream.
- In most cases, Chemotherapy is given in several cycles with a rest period of a few weeks between each cycle.
- This is to allow the body to recover from the side-effects of the treatment.
- It is usually a repetitive process which is practiced over a long period of time.
- The patient may get prolonged side effect such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and hair loss.