Cancer of the Liver
Alternate Names : Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Hepatoma
What are the treatments for the disease?
The most common therapies for liver cancer include:
surgery, if the cancer is small and does not affect a large part of the liver
liver transplant to replace the cancerous liver, if the cancerous area is very small
radiation therapy. Small primary liver cancers can occasionally be treated with localized radiation therapy to the tumor. Radiation can not be given to the whole liver.
chemotherapy, which can be used with radiation to enhance the effect of the radiation therapy. Chemotherapy alone may be used to reduce the tumor size and to relieve symptoms.
an injection of ethanol, which is a form of alcohol, into the liver. Ethanol damages the cancer and may give long-term control.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects varying depending on the treatment.
Surgery to remove small tumors requires a period of recovery.
Liver transplantation takes an extended recovery period.
Localized radiation therapy may be well tolerated. Occasionally, the person experiences
Side effects of chemotherapy depend
on the type of medication used. The most common side effects are increased
These side effects are usually mild and can be effectively treated.
Ethanol can cause pain in the site of the cancer. Sometimes the person has a
fever from the damage to the cancer.
What happens after treatment for the disease?
A person with primary liver cancer will need to be monitored closely. As the cancer
progresses, comfort measures can be offered as symptoms develop.
How is the disease monitored?
Some people with liver cancer have a high level of
alpha-fetoprotein in their blood. This substance indicates the presence
of a tumor. If the person has a high level at diagnosis, blood tests are repeated to check
the level. Specialized x-rays, such as
abdominal CT scans, also help monitor the disease. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.