How Can Liver Cancer Be Treated

Your liver is a large lobed glandular organ in the abdomen located right below the ribs. It performs various critical functions to keep the body free of toxins and harmful substances. The liver filters the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body

Liver cancer is also known as hepatic cancer. It is classified as primary or secondary. Primary cancer develops within the cells of the liver. Secondary cancer develops when the cancer cells from the other organs spread to the liver and cause cancer. Several treatment options are available for liver cancer which depends on different factors.

Let’s discuss the treatment options for liver cancer.


Surgery is the most successful treatment for this ailment. In this context, surgery involves the removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue during an operation. It is generally suggested if the cancer is within the liver cells and has not spread to any other part of the body. The surgeries are classified into two types. They include:

Hepatectomy: Hepatectomy is the removal of all or a portion of the liver. It is only possible if the patient has advanced cirrhosis, even if the tumor is small. The complications of hepatectomy may include:

  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Temporary liver failure

Liver transplantation: It is an option for people who have an early stage of cancer. During the surgery, the damaged liver is removed and transplanted with a healthy liver.  Your doctor may suggest a liver transplant if you have:

  • A single liver tumor that is 5cm across or less
  • Five tumors that are 3cm across or less
  • A single tumor 5 to 7 cm in size that has not grown for at least six months

Infection and rejection are the two complications of liver transplantation.


Ablation means destroying. It involves the use of ethanol injection or heat applied to the cancer cells to destroy them. It is divided into the following types:

Thermal ablation

In this procedure, heat is used to destroy cancer cells. It is divided into two types.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): In this treatment, radio waves are used to heat up the cancer cells until they are killed off. Pain and fever are the two side effects of  RFA.

Microwave ablation: It is a newer treatment and is similar to RFA but uses different energy waves to destroy cancer cells. In this procedure, the microwaves get heated and kill the cancer cells. It can be used to treat more than one tumor.

Percutaneous ethanol injection

This procedure involves direct administration of alcohol into the liver tumor to destroy it. It is safe, simple, and particularly effective for a tumor smaller than 3 cm.


High-energy X-rays or other particles are used to destroy cancer cells. It is of two types.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT): It is a term that describes several methods of delivering high doses of radiation to a tumor. It effectively treats tumors that are approximately 5cm or smaller.

Radioembolization: It is similar to chemoembolization. In this procedure, radioactive beads are injected into the artery that supplies the tumor with blood. The beads get trapped into the smaller blood vessels and deliver the drug directly into the tumor.


It is a type of chemotherapy treatment that is similar to hepatic arterial infusion. In this therapy, the drugs are used to destroy cancer cells. Before injecting the drugs into the hepatic artery, blood flow through the artery is blocked for a short time to let the drugs stay for a longer time in the target organ in order to destroy cancerous cells.

4.Targeted Therapy

This treatment targets cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. It destroys the growth and spread of cancer cells, and therefore limiting the damage to the healthy cells.


This is also called biologic therapy and is designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. It uses the materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore the immune system function. Fatigue, fevers, chills, muscle pains, and headaches are all side effects of this therapy.

Liver cancer can be a challenging and dangerous condition to deal with. However, with recent advances in oncology, you have a better chance of fighting this condition and living a full and healthy life.

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