Of all the formidable diseases that continue to contribute to the mortality rate, cancer takes the crown because it can affect any part of the body and wreak massive destruction in the patient’s life. Cancer can be treated only when it is diagnosed in its initial stages. After it starts metastasizing, the treatment options focus on reducing the severity of the symptoms and offering some relief to the patient. One such form of cancer that brought about 42,220 new cases the previous year is liver cancer. In fact, liver cancer is the tenth most common form of cancer and is known to be the fifth most common cause of cancer death.
The liver is responsible for filtering the blood that circulates throughout the body and converts the nutrients and drugs absorbed from the digestive tract into necessary chemicals. Moreover, the liver plays a major role in ensuring that toxins and chemical waste products are removed from the blood and readies them for excretion. As the liver is the medium of processing blood that flows throughout the body, it makes for an easy target for the cancer cells that travel in the bloodstream.
Liver cancer can be treated only when it is in the initial stages and as cancer progresses, the treatment methods change course as well. The treatment for liver cancer includes the following treatment options:
The surgeries to treat liver cancer include:
- Surgery to remove the cancerous tumor– In case the liver function is good, the doctor might recommend surgery to remove the liver cancer and a small portion of healthy liver tissue that surrounds it. This is possible only when the tumor is small. Also, opting for surgery depends on a variety of factors such as the location of the tumor within the liver, the level of liver function, and one’s overall health.
- Liver transplant surgery– This treatment option is meant for those with early-stage liver cancer. The liver transplant surgery involves removing the diseased liver and replacing it with a healthy liver from a donor.
The localized treatments are focused on administering treatments directly to the cancer cells and the areas surrounding the cancer cells. They include heating cancer cells, freezing the cancer cells, or injecting alcohol into the tumor. At times, it even includes injecting chemotherapy drugs into the liver or placing beads filled with radiation in the liver to ensure that they deliver radiation directly to the tumor.
Radiation therapy involves using high-powered energy from sources like protons and X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink the tumors. The doctor would direct the energy to the liver and spare the healthy tissue while doing so. It involves using a specialized type of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiosurgery and makes use of beams of radiation simultaneously at one point in the body.
Targeted drug therapy
Targeted drug therapy involves making use of drugs that work by interfering with specific abnormalities within a tumor. These medicines are known to slow or stop advanced liver cancer from progressing for a few months longer than with no treatment.