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What is the treatment for metastatic liver cancer?

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Quick Answer

The treatment for metastatic liver cancer depends on the site of the original tumor, the number of tumors in the liver and whether the cancer has spread, according to MedlinePlus. Treatment options include surgery, systemic chemotherapy and various therapies that target the tumor cells directly. These include alcohol injections, chemoembolization, cryotherapy, and radiofrequency or microwave ablation.

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Full Answer

Alcohol, heat and cold kill cancer cells, so doctors deliver these therapies directly into the liver using long needles or probes, explains MedlinePlus. In cryotherapy, the doctor injects a chemical through the probe that forms ice crystals and freezes the tumor. In radiofrequency or microwave ablation, heat energy in the form or radiowaves or microwaves travels through the probe and destroys the cancer cells. Chemoembolization is a two-part process in which the doctor first injects cancer-killing medication directly into the tumor and then injects another chemical to block the blood flow. The first step kills cancer cells directly, while the second starves them of oxygen and nutrients.

Doctors also use intensity-modulated radiation therapy to treat metastatic liver cancer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center reports. This technique uses sophisticated 3D images on a CT scan to map the exact location of the tumor and then varies the intensity of the radiation beam so that it molds to the tumor's shape. In some cases, doctors also inject tiny pieces of gold into the tumor that act as visual markers on the CT scan in a technique known as stereotactic body radiation therapy.

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