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Liver Cancer: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Dec 05, 2023

What is the treatment?

Cancer is a murderous disease and liver cancer no doubt is fatal for human life. Liver being the largest and the most important organ of the body deals with various essential functions like the mechanism of nutrients in the intestines, clotting of blood, breakage of toxic compounds and synthesis of enzymes activation. The diagnosis of liver cancer if conducted in its primary form involves chances for recovery whereas in case of the last stage of liver cancer, it is nearly impossible for the patient to survive. In many cases, liver cancer originates in the liver itself. However, often cancer spreads from other parts of the body (pancreas, stomach, colon etc.) and affects the liver. In this case, it is known as a secondary liver cancer. Liver often remains the victim of various tumour like a cyst, hemangioma, hepatic adenoma, lipoma and more. Where these tumours can be removed through surgical process, integrate liver cancer involves Hepatocellular carcinoma and Cholangiocarcinoma.

Well, the causes of liver cancer include several issues like defect since birth, excess smoking and intake of alcohol, Hepatitis B, Wilson and other rare diseases, obesity concerns, a growth in diabetes and often the race affect the probability of being affected by liver cancer.

Some of the common symptoms that suspect liver cancer are drastic weight loss, feel of being full even after a small meal, swelling or arousal of fluid in the abdominal area, skin tone becoming yellow, nausea and tendency of vomiting, tremendous loss in appetite and itching. Some severe symptoms include breast enlargement, high count in the red blood cells of the body and even low sugar causing fainting. On experiencing any such symptoms, the patient should immediately consult a doctor and perform tests to get a proper diagnosis by the doctor.

How is the treatment done?

Liver cancer as mentioned are of two types. Hepatocellular carcinoma(HCC) originates from the liver cell itself is different from secondary liver cancer that generally occurs in a different organ in the body and tends to spread to the liver. The probability of liver cancer is more in the United States. This is due to the excessive intake of alcohol and fatty liver issues and often obesity problems. This kind of liver cancer like HCC that rarely produce any symptoms and thus are required to undergo check-ups within fixed time intervals.

The initial process starts with a proper diagnosis of the doctor. However, this is attained when the patient undergoes various tests prescribed by the doctor. If a patient is diagnosed with early-stage liver cancer, chances of survival are more. Treatments include partial liver resection in which a tumour existing in the liver is removed conducting surgery. For a patient with cirrhotic liver, up to 60% of the liver is removed and is expected to grow back with time. Another treatment option remains liver transplantation. This is conducted when there is no major involvement of blood vessel, the spread of cancer limits to the liver and tumour is present inside. In this case, a donor is required. Ablation remains the other process where probes are injected through the skin to cancer affected area in order to kill the cancer germs with extreme temperatures.

These above processes do not work in case of severe cancer or last stages of cancer. Here the treatment includes Embolization and Chemotherapy. Embolization is the process that uses catheter into the blood supply of the liver and anti-cancer drugs are injected into the cell to kill cancer. The only chemotherapy that stands effective for HCC is Sorafenib. Chemotherapy is conducted when the patient reaches an extreme stage of liver cancer. However, it includes several severe side effects too.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

The patient experiencing symptoms of liver cancer( excess weight loss, loss of appetite, breast enlargement etc) should immediately visit a doctor. The patient on being diagnosed with liver cancer is eligible for the treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

The person not having any symptoms that of liver cancer should not worry. You are not eligible for the treatment.


Are there any side effects?

In case of liver cancer at its initial stage, a patient is prescribed treatments like partial liver resection. Liver transplantation and other minor options. This treatment procedure does not involve much side effects but definitely demands long-term rest formwork.

However, in case of major treatment like embolization or chemotherapy, the patient is sure to get some severe side effects. Some of the common side effects of chemotherapy include excess hair loss, nausea and vomiting tendency, fatigue, often bleeding and bruising, drastic loss of appetite, sores in mouth and probability of infection.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The patient should be prepared to experience treatment effects and should definitely follow the guidelines that would facilitate the recovery process. The patients are prescribed drugs that would help in suppressing the immune system. A constant psychological support (counselling and treatment ) stands necessary after the treatment in order to regain a normal flow of life. This helps in reducing depression and frustration that often arises post the treatment of liver cancer. In case of liver transplantation, the patient is advised to detect the rejection very soon, treat infection if it crops up, and keep adjusting the dose of anti-rejection drugs and even look if you result in up-growth of a new tumour.

Besides maintaining these preventive measures, do not forget to go for a doctor’s check-up frequently at regular intervals. The doctor would ask for your condition and sign or symptoms you are experiencing, Based on that, tests like MRI is prescribed in order to check the utility of the treatment.

How long does it take to recover?

Liver cancer is indeed a fatal disease. The treatment process takes a huge amount of time. In case of surgical treatments, there are post-treatment guidelines to maintain after the surgery whereas in case of chemotherapy the entire process includes several months and still include the risk of further spread in of cancer in the body. An approximate calculation says that 35 of the 100 people will survive for more than 1 years on receiving the treatment and 10% include chances of surviving until 5 years.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of the treatment for liver cancer depends on the treatment procedure. In case of surgery, the treatment would include the cost of the surgery and medication. However, the entire cost varies in different hospitals as they have different rates for the same.

On the other hand, an average cost of 2.5 lakh is involved for 6 months of treatment. However, it may extend to 20 lakhs in case of multiple chemotherapy sessions, drugs and other medical purposes.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Liver cancer is a fatal disease that involves least survival chances. In case of initial stages of liver cancer, survival rates are more. Studies speak 35 of 100 remains the survival rate and live more for 1 year. Whereas 10% of the total avail the luck to live more 5 years after the treatment.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Any damage to the liver is dreadful. Moreover, a patient experiencing liver cancer is required to undergo massive treatment. This treatment includes side effects.

Acupuncture is a great solution for patients experiencing nausea and vomiting. Cancer team of Bellin Health speaks the common side effect of cancer treatment where acupuncture turns to be a huge help. On the other hands, natural herbs like Milk thistle and Mediterranean herbs acts rigorously diminishing the side effects of chemotherapy and treat liver damages. Added to that, liver patients should indulge in exercise, maintain a strict diet and even go for a message.


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Written ByDr. Jagdish Shinde MD - Radiothrapy,MBBSOncology
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