How Is Liver Cancer Treated?

Liver cancer treatment includes surgery, tumor ablation, tumor embolization, targeted therapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Oncologists and other cancer specialists use many methods for targeting and treating liver cancer, and treatments vary depending on the stage of cancer; patients' goals and desires for extending life and alleviating pain; and the size and location of liver tumors, among other factors.

After receiving a diagnosis of liver cancer, patients receive care from one or more specialists. A cancer treatment team may include any or all of the following: oncologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists and surgeons. These experts suggest recommended treatment and specialize in carrying out certain procedures. Liver cancer, according to WebMD, has a better prognosis when detected early; advanced liver cancer may be nearly impossible to treat. Surgery proves beneficial for early stage liver cancers, where removing tumors does not pose a risk to the rest of the organ, and when livers do not yet appear damaged beyond repair. Surgeons may freeze and remove tumors using cryotherapy in patients with early stage cancers, and perform liver transplants in people with advanced disease. Radiologists may use radiation waves to destroy or shrink inoperable tumors. Although treatment for patients with advanced liver cancer remains less hopeful, specialists may administer pain-relieving medicines, along with anti-nausea drugs and low-dose radiation, which prevents the spread of cancer beyond the liver.