Treatment of liver cancer
After diagnosis and staging the next important step is treatment. There are several treatment options for liver cancer and they are listed below.
There are two types of surgery that can be performed for liver cancer. One is a resection which is a partial removal of the tumor and the other is a liver transplant. The treatment option if surgery is known to be the only reasonable cure for liver cancer.
The removal of a part of the liver is known as a partial hepatectomy. This kind of a surgery is usually considered if only a single tumor is present and if the tumor has not grown into the blood vessels of the liver. This surgery is also only conducted if the patient has good liver function and is healthy enough for surgery.
Liver transplant can be an option for those people who have tumors that cannot be surgically removed. In general it is used to treat patients with small tumors but this option can also be used to treat patients with resectable cancers.
An ablation is the process of destroying the tumor without removing it. These techniques are used in people who have few small tumors and also for those who are not healthy enough for surgery.There are several techniques that can be used and they include
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
In the procedure of a radio-frequency ablation, high energy radio waves are used to kill tumors. A CT scan or ultrasound is used to guide a needle like instrument through the skin and into the tumor. An electric current is passed to the tip of the instrument, releasing high frequency radio waves that heat the tumor and kill the cells.This method is helpful in tumors upto 5 cm and away from blood vessels.
A cryoablation is a procedure that uses extreme cold to destroy a diseased tissue. The procedure is performed using hollow needles through which cooled thermally conductive fluids are circulated. The cryoprobes are positioned adjacent to the target in such a way that the freezing process will destroy the affected tissue.This method is helpful in tumors upto 5 cm.
In this process ethanol (alcohol) is injected directly into the tumor to kill the cells. This procedure is also known as percutaneous ethanol injection. This can be repeated multiples times.
In this procedure, microwaves are transmitted through a probe and heat is used to destroy the tumor.
Chemotherapy is the use of cytotoxic or anti cancer drugs to kill cancer cells. The most common ways used to give chemotherapy include the intravenous method where the tube is placed into the vein using a needle or the chemotherapy drugs can be taken orally by the patient. Chemotherapy may be given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Targeted therapy is the kind of therapy that targets cancer cells including specific genes, proteins or even the tissue environment that contributes to the growth of cancer cells. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting the damage that is done to healthy cells. There are different types of targeted therapies which that are used, they include:
A kind of targeted therapy that focuses on stopping angiogenesis, which is the process of making new blood cells. The tumor needs nutrients from the blood cells to survive and the goal of anti-angiogenesis therapy is to starve the tumor.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors
An EGFR inhibitor is a kind of targeted therapy and studies have found that blocking the epidermal growth factor receptor may be beneficial for blocking or slowing down the growth of tomor.
Radiation therapy is the kind of treatment that uses high energy rays to kill cancer cells. There are different types of radiation therapy like:
External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)
In this type of radiation, the radiation is focused from outside the body through a machine. The process is a lot like getting an X-ray and the amount of radiation given depends on different factors. Radiation is usually given over a course of few days.
Stereotactic body radiotherapy
In this kind of radiation therapy very focused beams of high does radiation are aim at the tumor from many angles. To precisely target the radiation, the body is put into a specially designed body frame for each treatment.
In this procedure, tumors in the liver are treated by injecting small amounts of radioactive beads into the hepatic artery. In this procedure small amounts of radiation are given and it only travels a short distance.
Immunotherapy is the kind of treatment that uses drugs that enables a person immune system to fight and destroy cancer cells.