- Alcohol injection: Pure alcohol is injected directly into the tumor, either through the skin or during an operation. The alcohol dries out the tumor cells, eventually causing them to do. This treatment has been shown to improve the survival rates of patients with small hepatocellular tumors, and may reduce symptoms for metastatic liver cancer patients.
- Radiofrequency ablation: Electric current is used to destroy malignant cells. This is an option for small, unresectable hepatocellular tumors and some types of metastatic liver cancer.
- Chemoembolization: This is a type of chemotherapy that supplies strong drug directly to the liver. While it cannot cure liver cancer, in can shrink tumors in some patients, thus providing symptom relief and improving survival.
- Cryoablation: This treatment uses extreme cold to destroy cancer cells, and is often an option for patients with inoperable primary and metastatic liver cancers.
- Radiation therapy: This technique uses high-powered energy beams to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is often used on its own to treat localized unresectable tumors, though patients may have radiation therapy following surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: In this treatment, anti-cancer drugs are used to target cancer cells.
- Liver transplant: For patients whose livers have been extremely damaged, a transplant may be their only hope. Although this treatment can be very effective, there are not enough donor organs available to every patient who needs a liver, and not every patient is a suitable transplant candidate. Of the more than 10,000 living donor transplants performed worldwide, the recipient death rate is about 9 percent.
Treatments for Liver Cancer
Treatments for liver cancer depend on the disease’s stage and the patient’s age and overall health. When possible, the goal is to eliminate the cancer; when this is not possible, doctors try to ameliorate symptoms and/or prevent the tumor from growing or spreading.
For localized resectable liver cancers, the best treatment is usually surgery to remove the tumor. In a surgical resection, the area of the liver where the cancer is found is completely removed. It’s important to note, however, that removing all cancerous cells can be dangerous, and even in a best-case scenario the cancer could come back in a couple years. Candidates are not eligible for this surgery is they have cirrhosis or if only a small amount of healthy liver tissue exists.
Other treatment options include: