Treatment Options

Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association



Treatment Options

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The treatment of HCC often requires the expertise of multiple medical professionals. Your care may consist of a multidisciplinary team that includes an oncologist, gastroenterologist, hepatologist, interventional radiologist, radiation oncologist, surgical oncologist and transplant surgeon.

Surgery removes the cancer cells during an operation.

  • Liver transplant: In this surgery, a donor provides a new or partial liver to replace the diseased liver in another person. This complicated procedure is usually recommended for Very Early Stage patients. Sometimes other treatments will be administered pretransplantation in order to shrink tumors. It is possible for tumors to regrow in the new liver.
  • Resection: This surgery involves the removal of damaged tissue or entire portions of the liver. Many patients are not candidates for resection. Similar to liver transplantation, other treatments may be administered before resection to shrink tumors. Ablation destroys cancer cells with minimally invasive, local and variable techniques. Ablation treatments are often used when surgery is not an option and are most beneficial in patients with smaller tumors. Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI), cryoablation, microwave therapy and irreversible electroporation therapy are different types of ablation treatments.

Embolization damages cancer cells by delivering toxic agents through the hepatic artery to the cancerous area. The goal is to block the tumor’s blood supply and thereby stop its growth.*

  • Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE): This treatment administers chemotherapy drugs into the liver tumor through the hepatic artery. This procedure is usually beneficial in patients who have tumors limited to the liver. TACE can be used to decrease the size of tumors to make surgical options possible.
  • Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT): This treatment consists of microscopic glass beads filled with radioactive elements. Injected through the hepatic artery, the beads deliver radiation directly to the liver tumors. SIRT is also known as SIR-Spheres®, TheraSphere®, Yttrium 90, Y90 and brachytherapy.

Chemotherapy (e.g., sorafenib) destroys cancer cells and stops the production of new cancer cells by using a variety of chemicals. Chemotherapy may be administered by mouth or through the vein; the drug(s) interrupts the life cycle of cells by stopping them from growing/reproducing. Currently, sorafenib is the only FDA-approved chemotherapy for HCC, but other drugs are being evaluated in clinical trials. Patients taking chemotherapy may experience side effects.*

*Indicates a palliative treatment, which is designed to provide relief but not a cure.
© June 2015

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