Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Treatment for liver hepatoma

Specific treatment for liver hepatoma will be determined by your physician based on:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history.
  • Extent of the disease. 
  • Your tolerance of specific medicines, procedures or therapies. 
  • Expectations for the course of the disease. 
  • Your opinion or preference.

Treatment may include the following methods:

  • Surgery – may be necessary to remove cancerous tissue, as well as nearby noncancerous tissue. Total surgical removal of the liver lobe or removal of segments of the liver may be performed. Surgery to remove part of the liver is called partial hepatectomy.
  • External radiation (external beam therapy) – a treatment therapy that precisely sends high levels of radiation directly to the cancer cells. The machine is controlled by the radiation therapist. Since radiation is used to kill cancer cells, special shields may be used to protect the tissue surrounding the treatment area. Radiation treatments are painless and usually last a few minutes. If the liver cancer is more advanced, radiation may be used to shrink the size of the tumor and to provide relief from symptoms. 
  • Chemotherapy– the use of anti-cancer drugs to treat cancerous cells. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to grow or reproduce. Different groups of drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells. The oncologist will recommend a treatment plan for each individual.
    • Intra-arterial chemotherapy – chemotherapy is delivered directly to the liver tumor by injecting the anticancer drugs into an artery that supplies the liver.
    • Chemoembolization – the blood supply to the liver tumor is blocked surgically or mechanically and anticancer drugs are given directly into the tumor, allowing a higher concentration of an anticancer drug to be in contact with the tumor for a longer period of time.
  • Radio frequency ablation – a special probe is used to kill the cancer cells with heat. The physician may insert the probe through the skin, using local anesthesia, or it may be inserted though a small incision in the abdomen, using general anesthesia. Laser and microwave therapy are other treatment therapies that use heat to destroy tumors in the liver.
  • Liver transplantation – may be a surgical option for a few patients.