Liver cancer treatment
There are many different types of treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most common type of primary liver cancer.
Learn more about:
- Treatment overview
- Making treatment decisions
- Tumour ablation
- Radiation therapy
- Transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE)
- Drug therapies
- Palliative treatment
The treatment recommended will depend on a range of factors, including:
- the size of the tumour
- how far it has spread within the liver and the body
- whether you have cirrhosis
- if any major blood vessels are involved
- your age and your general health.
A multidisciplinary team (MDT) may meet to discuss the best treatment options for you. Ask your doctor if your case has been discussed by an MDT.
Treatments for HCC that affects only the liver include:
- surgery – liver resection or liver transplant
- tumour ablation – heat or alcohol is used to destroy the tumour
- radiation therapy – stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), also known as stereotactic ablative body radiation (SABR), or selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT)
- transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE) – chemotherapy drugs are delivered directly to the tumour via its blood supply.
If the cancer is advanced or has spread beyond the liver, you may be offered drug therapies such as immunotherapy or targeted therapy. Sometimes, if the liver is too damaged, you may be offered palliative treatment to manage symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
A/Prof Simone Strasser, Hepatologist, AW Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and The University of Sydney, NSW; A/Prof Siddhartha Baxi, Radiation Oncologist and Medical Director, GenesisCare, Gold Coast, QLD; Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director of Palliative Care, NSLHD Supportive and Palliative Care Network, Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Anne Dowling, Hepatoma Clinical Nurse Consultant and Liver Transplant Coordinator, Austin Health, VIC; A/Prof Koroush Haghighi, Liver, Pancreas and Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeon, Prince of Wales and St Vincent’s Hospitals, NSW; Karen Hall, 131120 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Brett Knowles, Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary and General Surgeon, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and St Vincent’s Hospital, VIC; Lina Sharma, Consumer; David Thomas, Consumer; Clinical A/Prof Michael Wallace, Department of Hepatology and Western Australian Liver Transplant Service, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Medical School, The University of Western Australia, WA; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT.
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