Just like in any other type of cancer, for liver cancer treatment chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy is the key, specifically in its later stages. Some of the patients might not be able to get these treatments because of their overall health state and other medical conditions they have.
There is no specific preparation for chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, it is recommended to have a healthy lifestyle before liver cancer treatment starts. Additionally, it is recommended to inform the doctors about the medical problems you suffer from and the medications you are taking. This way, your cancer treatment can be planned according to your needs.
The liver resection option is only possible for the patients who are suffering from stage 1 liver cancer. In the later stages, liver resection not performed because it is highly ineffective. Rather, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is performed as a traditional cancer treatment.
• During chemotherapy, strong drugs are used to fight cancer cells. These chemotherapy drugs can be injected or swallowed as a pill.
• In radiotherapy treatment, a dose of radiation is given to the patient in two possible ways: either as an external radiation therapy that includes a special machine that emits radiation from the outside or as an internal radiation therapy that involves the injection of radioactive elements into the bloodstream.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are not one-time treatments; rather, they involve regularly planned sessions.
The recovery period of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is a long process that might last for months or even years. Even though these treatment techniques offer to prolong the patient's life, still they have many side effects that may be experienced for a sometimes even after the treatment is completed.
The radiotherapy and chemotherapy as a treatment for liver cancer might cause some complications involving:
• Lung problems
• Heart problems
• Damage to other organs
• Nerve damage
However, these risks and complications can be managed with medicines.
Liver cancer treatment involves some side effects such as:
• Memory and concentration problems• A general feeling of weakness and being constantly tired
• Nausea and vomiting
Many patients who get chemotherapy and radiotherapy for liver cancer get used to managing these side effects. Also, not all of the side effects are experienced by all patients who get liver cancer treatment.
Liver cancer is a resilient cancer type. Therefore, the survival rate of liver cancer is low in comparison to other cancer types. Stage 1 liver cancer patients have a 5-year survival rate of 50-70%. Stage 2 liver cancer success rate is thought to be about 20 months, while stage 3 liver cancer patients live with chemotherapy and radiation therapy for the average of 6 to 11 months. For the patients who are suffering from stage 4 liver cancer, the doctors mainly focus on easing the pain because unfortunately, there is no effective treatment.
Even though liver cancer treatment includes many side effects and might cause some complications because of strong drugs used during the procedures, still chemotherapy and radiation therapy guarantee prolonging the patient’s life and in the stage 1 liver cancer – might help eliminate it along with liver resection.
When Can I Have a Liver Resection as a Liver Cancer Treatment?
Liver resection is an effective option for patients who have stage 1 (stage A) liver cancer. In the later stages of cancer, liver resection does not give effective results. Therefore the specialists perform mainly chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy
Have Many Side Effects. Isn’t It Better to Resign from Them? While chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment used in liver cancer treatment has many side effects, they also are effective in prolonging the patient's life or assisting a total eradication of liver cancer. Therefore, these treatments are still highly recommended.
Are There no Alternative Liver Cancer Treatment?
Novel kinds of liver cancer treatments are developing, including targeted therapy. However, liver resection in stage 1 liver cancer treatment and chemotherapy with radiotherapy in later stages of cancer are still the primary means of fighting with liver cancer.
This content is written and reviewed by our medical content team in October, 2019.