Early detection and diagnosis of liver cancer is the key to successful treatment. The treatment outcome is much better if it is diagnosed before it has spread to other parts of the body. Surgery is one of the options available for treatment. The patient’s health status should be good enough to enable surgery and post-operative recovery. At present, liver cancer is very difficult to cure using the currently available techniques. Therefore most of the treatment is directed towards extending the lifespan and improving the quality of life of a liver cancer patient. A team of medical professionals (general surgeons, transplant surgeons, oncologists, radiotherapists, gastroenterologists) may participate in the treatment process.
Factors That Determine Treatment
Number of tumors (Single/ Multiple)
Size of the tumor (Small/ big)
Extend of liver damage as a result of liver cancer
Age and general health condition of the patient
Severity of the disease (Spread to other parts of the body)
Concerns regarding side effects of treatment
At this moment, liver cancer can be effectively treated only if diagnosed at an early stage. Surgery remains the viable treatment option if the tumor is small enough to be treated and is located in such a place that it can be removed easliy. Liver cancer cannot be removed if it has spread to other places such as the lungs or bones or the liver is extensively damaged as in cirrhosis. A specific part of the liver that is affected by the tumor is removed by a process called liver resection. In some cases, removal of an entire lobe of the liver may be necessary. The liver has an excellent regenerative capacity and the removed segement would be substituted by a new tissue within few weeks or months.
Liver transplantation (removal of the diseased liver and replacement with a liver segment from a donor) is yet another option. However, it can be done only when the tumor is sufficiently small.