When we think of available treatment options for liver cancer, we mostly associate transplant as a last resort. And it’s quite understandable because liver transplant candidates often need to wait a long time before they can proceed with the procedure.
Doctors generally recommend liver transplants to patients with a small tumor, especially those whose liver is no longer healthy. It’s also an option if the tumor is in a risky location; for instance, it’s near a major vein.
Successful liver transplant not only reduces the risk of recurrence, but also restores normal liver function.
In this method, the doctor “targets” the tumor directly in the liver. It can be achieved in several ways:
- Chemoembolization: This strategy to treat liver cancer administers anti-cancer drugs directly into the liver to kill or destroy cancer cells.
- Radiation beads: Instead of anti-cancer drugs, the doctor may use beads that contain radiation. The doctor then places those bids directly in the liver tumor.
- Alcohol injection: Another method is to inject pure alcohol directly into the liver. Alcohol causes cancer cells to die.
- Heating and freezing cancer cells: To destroy cancer cells, the doctor may also use heat (radiofrequency ablation) or freeze them (cryoablation).
Another available treatment option for liver cancer is radiotherapy. In this procedure, the patient lies down on the table while an x-ray-emitting machine directs rays to the liver to kill cancer cells.
Doctors may recommend this strategy to treat liver cancer if the patient cannot receive other treatment or other methods didn’t help.
Targeted drug therapy and chemotherapy
Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific characteristics of the tumor, which causes cancer cells to die. Chemotherapy is similar in the sense that it also uses drugs; however, unlike targeted therapy, chemo is systemic; that’s why it may also affect the body’s normal cells.