What Are the Treatment Options for Liver Cancer?
To treat liver cancer, there are two broad treatment options viz. transplant and non-transplant options.
Liver transplant is a surgical treatment option where the entire liver is replaced by a healthy one through surgery. It is an extensive process and is divided into two types:
- Deceased Donor Liver Transplantation (DDLT): In this case, diseased liver of the patient is replaced with a healthy liver from a donor who has died recently.To avail DDLT, a patient has to go through a number of tests for the doctors to determine if the patient is fit for transplant. Once the tests are through, patients get enrolled in the waiting list for the liver transplant.
- Living Donor Liver Transplantation (LDLT): In this case, the patient with a diseased liver receives a part of liver from family or a friend. Patient’s damaged liver is replaced with the healthy one, which eventuallygrows on later to its normal size. It is the preferred transplant option where the patient needs immediate transplantation and a DDLT is not feasible.
- Radiofrequency Ablation: Also known as RFA, it is a non-transplant surgical option used to kill cancerous cells. It is a minimally invasive medical procedure which is performed using local anesthesia.This treatment employsimage guidance to place a needle through the skin into a liver tumor.Using a probe, a high-frequency electrical current is passed through the needle which creates heat to destroy the cancer cells. RFA has a high success rate and is the recommended treatment option where surgery is not feasible.
- Partial Hepatectomy: An entire part of the liver is removed, ranging from a smaller section to an entire lobe.
This treatment option is used to kill cancer cells or to prevent them from reproducing by injecting a substance or intake of pills which travels through the body. Chemoembolization( TACE- Trans Arterial chemoembolization) of the hepatic artery is another method wherein the artery is blocked to starve the tumour of blood to kill it. It is done by mixing the chemotherapy drug with another substance.
TARE- Trans arterial radioembolization and EBRT or SBRT- External beam radiotherapy or Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
Percutaneous Ethanol Injection
This is a rare liver cancer treatment method wherein 100 percent pure ethanol is injected into a tumour to destroy it. This treatment works best in cases of hepatocellular carcinoma or primary liver cancer. Interventional radiologists inject ethanol through the skin into the tumor with the help of ultrasound or CT guidance. The ethanol causes the destruction of the tumor by drawing out water (dehydrating) from the tumor cells which alter the structure of cellular proteins. By denaturing the structure of tumor cells, ethanol injections work effectively in treating some cancers.
Life after Liver Cancer Treatment
After a successful liver cancer treatment, you too can live a normal life and resume your daily activities. It is important to follow the directions given by your doctor.Post-treatment, the patient is required to make healthy choices andefforts to stay fit. It will indeed take some time for the patient to recover completely both physically and mentally. Here are a few things that can help the patient in recovering fast.
- Take adequate rest and give some time for self
- Do not include tasks in your work routine that require strenuous efforts from your end.
- Avoid it for at least some time post the treatment
- Socialize more, it will help in making you feel better
- Exercise regularly, but moderation should be the key
- Start having a healthy diet with lots of green vegetables and avoid junk food
- In case of discomfort, visit the physician at the earliest
Follow Up Care after Liver Cancer Treatment
After a successful liver cancer treatment, the physician will conduct periodic medical check-ups to monitor whether the cancer has recurred. A series of physical examinations, medical tests or both the methods can be used as a follow-up care by the concerned physician. The doctor will also check whether there are any side-effects of the treatment. Whatever changes you feel in your body post the treatment, let your physician be aware of it, so that a proper follow-up care routine is designed.