Liver Cancer Treatments
Our treatment team, care options, and other liver conditions we treat.
There are many treatments for liver cancer. If we diagnose the disease early enough, we often can treat it successfully.
Our radiologists are experts in the use of nonsurgical techniques and use advanced tools and facilities as part of the care they provide, including the world's first ViewRay MRIdian Linac® and Michigan’s first Edge™ radiosurgery system, which treats tumors without the need for incisions. Our liver surgeons pioneered many innovative surgical approaches for liver treatment, and are among the country’s most experienced in minimally invasive liver procedures for liver cancer and other types of liver disease.
Nonsurgical treatment for liver cancer
Whenever possible, our liver tumor treatment team prefers minimally invasive techniques to remove or destroy tumors. Minimally invasive techniques help patients avoid the large incisions and painful recoveries associated with traditional surgery methods.
Our doctors use ultrasound and other image-guided technologies for minimally invasive tumor destruction, including the following techniques:
Side effects of ablation, portal vein embolization, and radioembolization treatment include short term abdominal pain, nausea, and fatigue.
Traditionally, liver surgery is done through a large (20- to 25-inch) incision on the abdomen in order to reach the liver and remove as much of the tumor as possible. However, this typically results in pain over the incision and puts the patient at risk for hernias. Additionally, traditional liver surgery can cause fatigue, slowed activity, and a prolonged recovery process.
We offer laparoscopic liver surgery (also called minimally invasive hepatic surgery), in which surgeons access the liver and perform most of the procedure through four to five small keyhole incisions in the abdomen. Besides requiring much smaller incisions than traditional open abdominal surgery, the laparoscopic procedure is equally effective for most patients.
Sorafenib, also known as Nexavar, is an oral pill that is used to treat advanced liver cancer. It is most appropriate in the setting of hepatocellular carcinomathat cannot be treated with an operation or transplant. It may work to slow down the cancer cell growth and to help decrease the number of new bloodvessels that feed cancer cells to grow. It will not, however, make the cancer go away or resolve.
Future therapies that are anticipated for advanced liver cancer include but are not limited to Regorafenib, another anti-cancer medication similar to Sorafenibfor patients with disease that is in-operable. In the future we also hope to have approved immunotherapy options for treatment of liver cancer. Currently these are being studied through clinical trials.
Clinical Trial Therapies
You may be considered for clinical trials when your case is reviewed by the Liver Tumor Board, and at your clinic visits. Discussion about clinical trials can occur at regular clinic visits, or separately with our team of dedicated research nurses and coordinators.
Our liver transplant team
If you need a liver transplant as part of your liver cancer care, our transplant team is ready to help. About 30 percent of our liver transplant patients have a history of liver cancer. Among transplant recipients who have been treated for liver cancer, our patients have a 90 percent survival rate one year after surgery and a 75 to 80 percent survival rate five years afterward.
Liver cancer treatment at Henry Ford
We provide each person a personalized treatment plan to achieve the best possible outcome. Most often, treatment options are developed through our tumor board, a team of cancer specialists that meets regularly to evaluate and discuss the best treatments based on a patient’s diagnosis.
Our experts consider a number of factors when developing a treatment plan, including the patient’s:
- Staging of the disease
- Other conditions
- Performance status
- Patient preferences
- Underlying liver disease and liver function
We’ll inform you of the potential side effects, realistic goals of treatment, and post-treatment monitoring. Our liver cancer team welcomes questions, and we provide contact information in case your family members or other loved ones would like to reach us.