Liver cancer can be primary or secondary to a cancer that began in another part of the body. Primary liver cancer is cancer that actually began in the liver itself. Treatment for liver cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, your general overall health and your age. Liver cancer treatment can consist of the use of medications such as chemotherapy with anti-neoplastic medications, targeted drug therapy, radiation treatments or with surgical intervention.
Liver Cancer Medication – Chemotherapy
Research continues to find new and improved ways to prolong the lives of those suffering from liver cancer. New clinical trials for new forms of systemic chemotherapy medications and regional chemotherapies in combination with other treatments are being researched and studied. Some newer drugs such as capecitabine, docetaxel, oxaliplatin and gemcitabine are currently being tested.
Targeted Drug Therapy Liver Cancer Medication
Targeted drug treatments are medications which directly target the abnormalities of cancerous cells. The drug Nexavar is currently being used to treat some liver cancers that cannot be surgically removed. Nexavar slows or stops tumor growth by interrupting its ability to grow new blood vessels for nutrients. Another medication Avastin also works to stop the growth of new blood vessels that would supply the tumor. Tarceva is a medication which targets the protein EGFR on cancer cells and has shown some promising results for people in early trials. New targeted drug therapies continue to be researched and studied.
Liver Cancer Treatment
Although there are medications used in the treatment of liver cancer, most cancers of the liver require surgical intervention. This may begin with a biopsy of the tissue to determine the type of cancer cells present. Further surgeries may be necessary to remove the tumor or the tissue (surgical resection) that has cancerous cells present. The liver is an organ that can regenerate within the body and removing part of the liver is often a good option. Some patients may require a liver transplant.
Following liver cancer treatment whether it is with medication or with surgical intervention you will need to keep all of your follow up appointments with your physician. You will require blood tests for liver studies and usually you will have routine imaging such as CT scans or MRI scans about every three to six months for the first few years and then this is reduced to about once or twice a year. These blood tests are to ensure proper functioning of the liver and to watch you closely for any indication that the cancer has returned or has spread to other areas of the body.