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What is the Treatment for Liver Cancer?

Learn about liver cancer treatment options like surgery, transplant, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy to fight this life-threatening disease.

  • 08 Feb 2024
  • 3 min read
  • 14 views

Liver cancer is a severe medical condition that impacts lives around the world. It can occur due to genetic mutations, infections by hepatitis B or C virus, chronic alcohol consumption and more. While prevention is ideal, the reality is that some people are faced with it no matter what. Treatment of liver cancer usually depends on the severity of the cancer, as well as its type. It’s important to get diagnosed as quickly as possible so that prompt treatment can be given. In this article, we will provide an overview of the main options for liver cancer treatment and discuss how doctors approach personalised treatment planning.

 

Treatment of Liver Cancer

Primary liver cancer treatment depends on the symptoms, clinical examination, overall health, and personal preference for treatment. Treatment may involve the following:

 

  • Surgery: The treatment for primary liver cancer involves surgery to remove tumour cells, in a procedure called partial hepatectomy. The healthcare provider may recommend an operation to remove a small portion of healthy liver tissue surrounding the tumour, ensuring that your liver functions well even after a small operation.

 

  • Liver transplant surgery : A liver transplant surgery is done to remove the diseased liver and replace it with a healthy liver from a suitable donor. This treatment is recommended for only a small percentage of people with early-stage liver cancer.

 

  • Localised treatments: This type of treatment is done to kill the cancer cells constituting the specified area or the area surrounding the cancer cells. The localised treatment involves:
  • Heating cancer cells 

This treatment involves using electric current to heat and destroy cancer cells. 

  • Freezing cancer cells

This is done by cryoblation technique using liquid nitrogen directly on the liver tumour 

 

  • Radiation therapy: In this therapy, radiations using high-energy beams from sources such as X-rays and protons are targeted towards cancer cells, causing them to die. Radiation therapy can be given to patients from a large machine placed outside the body (external beam radiation) or from tiny radioactive seeds and wires that can be placed inside the body (brachytherapy).

 

  • Chemotherapy: This therapy uses drugs to kill tumour cells. Chemotherapy drugs are given intravenously to travel through the body using the bloodstream to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is generally done after surgery to lower the risk of reoccurrence. 

 

  • Targeted drug therapy: Targeted therapy utilises drugs and other substances to target cancer cells. This involves using anti-angiogenic agents that block blood vessels and shrink them to enter the tumour. Such techniques are used after surgical procedures. The drug atezolizumab is often used to stop the action of protein found in cancer cells that help them grow.
  • Immunotherapy: This therapy enables the immune system to fight liver cancer by restoring the body's natural defence mechanism. This therapy is usually used to treat advanced liver cancer that is not responding to standard treatments.

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Conclusion

Primary liver cancer is a life-threatening disease and is reported to be the fastest-growing cancer. It is very important to seek help from doctors as early as possible who can guide and focus on your treatments to relieve symptoms and slow the cancer growth while helping you maintain a quality of life. Moreoever, a good health insurance plan can cover the high costs of liver cancer treatment. You may also join the liver cancer community to discuss the daily challenges that one might be experiencing during the treatment that provide information, advice, and connections to resources for those living with liver cancer disease.

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