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What Treatments Are Available for Liver Cancer?
The largest internal organ of your body is the liver, and it’s divided into two sections. Where’s your liver? It is the organ in your upper right abdomen, just below the diaphragm.
It’s mostly made up of hepatocytes, and we can’t survive without our liver. This is because it has the following functions:
- The liver’s primary function is to detoxify your body, integrate proteins, and manufacture biochemicals for growth and digestion.
- Blood that comes from the stomach and intestines goes to the liver to break it down to something the body can fully use. It’s also concerned with filtering drugs into nontoxic materials.
- It aids in digestion by delivering bile to the intestine.
- It’s also the main contributor to the clotting of wounds an individual incurs upon injury.
Liver Cancer Treatments
How is liver cancer treated? Treatment for liver cancer varies and is connected to many factors. Depending on what the professionals’ advise the patient, the treatment options include:
- Surgery. If the tumor is still small, then it can still be removed through surgery.
- Chemotherapy. To decrease and target cancer cells, this procedure can be utilized before or after surgery.
- Interventional Radiology. To directly give treatment to the rumor, this method is selected.
- Radiation Therapy. Many radiation therapies are available to deal with cancer cells. The side effects will also depend on what the radiation therapy is.
- Targeted Therapy. This procedure uses specific drugs to lock in and target cells that cause cancer.
- Immunotherapy. This also uses drugs that block receptor proteins so the immune system can work against the cancer cells.
A Closer Look: What’s Liver Cancer?
To put it simply, liver cancer is cancer that affects your liver. Cancer happens when the cells have abnormal growth and form tumors. These tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous), depending on the type of cells.
Tumors that grow in the liver are called Primary Liver Cancer. On the other hand, cancer from different parts of the body and spread to the liver is called Secondary Liver Cancer or Liver Metastasis.
To be aware of possible liver cancer treatments, the patient should know what kind of liver cancer they have.
Kinds of Primary Liver Cancer
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
This is the most common type of cancer of the liver. One of its types starts as a single tumor and then spreads to other parts of the liver. At the same time, another is mainly found in individuals with chronic liver damage or cirrhosis and begins with small cancer nodules.
Another kind is Fibrolamellar carcinoma (FHCC), a rare subtype of HCC and is prominent in women younger than 35.
Cancer of the Bile Duct (Cholangiocarcinoma)
As its name suggests, this cancer forms in the drain bile. It’s a rare type of liver cancer, with 1 out of 100,000 individuals affected in the United States each year.
It starts in the liver’s lining of the blood vessels.
Kinds of Secondary Liver Cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancers or cancer that develops in the stomach
- Colorectal cancers or cancers that start in the rectum or colon
- Melanoma or skin cancer that begins with melanocyte cells
Risk Factors of Cancer of the Liver
Risk factors increase the chance of acquiring liver cancer. However, this does not mean that being exposed to most factors listed will guarantee that an individual will end up with the disease. It’s even possible to have liver cancer even if an individual does not experience any of these factors.
Knowing the risk factors will also give an individual the chance to avoid these risk factors or be more careful about them.
- Ethnicity or Race. It was discovered that the highest rate of people living with liver cancer is Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the condition where the scar tissues replace damaged liver cells. This happens when toxic substances (such as alcohol, drugs, and fatty foods) affect the liver and cause the cells to die.
- Chronic Hepatitis. Long-term infection of Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis.
- Aflatoxins Exposure. Mods from crops produce poisons when they are not properly stored. These can contaminate food.
- Gender. HCC is more prevalent in men than women, while FHCC affects more women.
- Diabetes. People with high blood sugar are more at risk than those who don’t.
Symptoms of Cancer of the Liver
Tumors in the liver are not noticeable unless they are in the advanced stage. These symptoms include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting or nausea
- Jaundice or yellowish skin discoloration
- Loss of appetite
- Chalky or white stools
- Weakness or fatigue
- Abdominal pain and swelling
Diagnosis of Liver Cancer
Proper diagnoses of cancer should be made, so the question of “What is the treatment for liver cancer?” can be answered and examined. Here are some ways to diagnose liver cancer:
- Biopsy. Treatment for liver cancer often starts with this process. It’s done by extracting a sample tissue. This sample tissue will then be examined in a laboratory to find out if it’s cancer.
- Lab tests. These can be ongoing tests to learn more about the beginning and causes of cancer. This will also shed more light on how to treat liver cancer.
- MRI, Ultrasound, CT Scan, PET Scan. These imaging tests let professionals see what’s inside the patient’s body and locate parts that may have cancer. These can also help determine the cause of it.
Stages of Liver Cancer
After diagnosis, the cancer’s stage should be determined to know if it has spread and how far it reached. The higher the stage of cancer, the more cancer has affected the body.
There are four stages of liver cancer, and the grouping system of doctors may be complex. A patient can ask their doctor to explain the cancer’s stage to them so they can better understand their condition.
Factors to Consider When Finding Out the Stage of the Cancer:
- The function of the liver
- The severity of the symptoms
- The overall health of the patient and the liver
- If and where the cancer has spread
Discuss Liver Cancer Treatment Options With All American Hospice
If you’re looking for professionals who can help you deal with liver cancer and treatment for advanced liver cancer, All American Hospice is here to assist you in any way we can. We provide you the best care with our experts to help you go through this journey. Contact us today, and let’s discuss your options.