Liver Cancer Treatment and Cure
Liver cancer treatment and cure is aimed at treating one of the most important organs of the body. It is intended to provide the liver cancer patient permanent relief from liver cancer.
Liver cancer is of two forms hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or cholangiocarcinoma. Both of these show symptoms such as indigestion, yellow urination, blood in stools or urine, jaundice accompanied by skin and eyes turning yellow. Besides these, sensitivity to touch in abdominal area, pain and formation of abdominal mass or liver enlargement might be observed. If such symptoms are seen, deeper diagnostics for liver cancer are carried out. Diagnostics include MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), liver biopsy, ultrasound and Doppler tests.
Once it is ascertained that liver cancer is present in the patient treatment may start. Liver cancer treatment and cure are highly dependent on the stage of the liver cancer and the type of liver cancer. Liver cancer treatment varies with tumor size and whether the tumor has the ability to spread or not. Liver cancer treatment and cure includes many branches of medicine such as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy: Liver cancer treatment uses a combination of chemotherapy and embolization also known as Chemoembolization. This procedure is also known as Transcatheter Arterial Chemoembolization (TACE). For example, in hepatocellular carcinoma patients, a thin tube is directed through the groin to the arteries near the tumor. Now anti cancer drugs are introduced directly at the tumor through the adjacent blood supply vessels through the probe. These are then blocked using artificial emboli or blocking substances like Gelfoam. This reduces blood supply to the tumor (occlusion) and increases the concentration of the drugs at the tumor site killing a maximum number of tumor cells. This also allows for keeping the drug at the tumor site for a longer period of time, which maximizes the destruction of the tumor.
Throughout the procedure, the patient may be given local anesthesia and can even watch the procedure been performed, while lying awake. Radio opaque contrast agents like Lipiodol are used to help observation of the procedure on imaging devices. The patient is not permitted any movement for at least 6 to 7 hours after the procedure to help heal the artery. A CT scan may be done to check if the procedure was successful or not.
Some other common chemotherapy drugs are cyclophosphamide, 5-fluorouracil, capecitabine, leucovorin, gemcitabine, vincristine and doxorubicin. Iodine-131-lipiodol, sorafenib and ethanol are been evaluated for chemotherapy
Radiation Therapy: Focused external beam radiation and stereotactic radiation therapy is used to focus a high concentration dose of the radiation to the tumor. Liver cancer cure is now also possible by using certain radioactive materials that are injected directly at the tumor site. Instead of using heavy machinery to target the tumor from outside, brachytherapy or internal radiotherapy works by placing radioactive substances inside the body at the tumor site.
One such radiotherapy technique is placing millions of tiny glass bubbles or spheres filled with or made up of radioactive substances or radioisotopes of certain elements near the tumor. Here also embolization may be used to help concentrate the glass spheres near the tumor.
Radio Frequency Ablation and Photodynamic Therapy: Photodynamic therapy uses light waves generated by LEDs or LASERs such as infrared or ultraviolet rays or high intensity visible light. A special class of photosensitizing medicine is applied on the surface of the tumor which helps the destruction of the tumor as soon as it comes in contact with light. Radio frequency ablation destroys tumors by heating those using very high frequency radio waves. Both of these techniques are relatively cheaper and require a low recovery time.
But they are suitable for treatment of smaller and localized tumors
Liver Surgery: Liver cancer treatment also includes surgery for liver. Liver surgery is a complicated process. It involves making a cut or incision on the body to remove the liver tumor. In extreme cases, liver transplantation may be carried out. Here the cancer affected liver is removed partially or completely and replaced by a liver of a matching donor. This is an extremely costly procedure and comes with its own set of complications.
Other liver cancer treatment and cure include cryo-ablation and high frequency and high intensity ultrasound.
Liver cancer treatment and cure thus offer a ray of hope for liver cancer patients. Remember that treatment and early diagnosis of liver cancer can avoid you a lot of future complications.