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Understanding Liver Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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What Are the Treatments for Liver Cancer? continued...

Cryotherapy, or freezing the tumor, and radiofrequency ablation (RFA), using radio waves to destroy the tumor, may be used to treat some cases of liver cancer. Radiation therapy can be given in various ways, but has its limitations due to the liver's low tolerance to radiation. When used, the role of radiation is to alleviate symptoms outside of the liver or to relieve pain within the liver by shrinking the tumor. Radioembolization therapy uses substances to cut off the blood supply to the tumor.

A liver transplant may be an option for those with both liver cancer and cirrhosis. Although this procedure is risky, it offers some chance of long-term survival.

Advanced liver cancer has no standard curative treatment. Chemotherapy and low-dose radiation may control the cancer's spread and ease pain, however these are of modest benefit in this type of cancer. Most patients receive painkilling medication along with drugs to relieve nausea, improve appetite, and reduce abdominal or lower body swelling. The drug sorafenib (Nexavar) is the first drug to significantly improve the overall survival with advanced liver cancer and is considered the drug of choice for such patients.

People with advanced liver cancer may choose to join clinical trials testing new approaches to treatment. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on April 28, 2014
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