Video

On Cancer: Liver Cancer Experts Discuss Advances in Managing Complicated Cases

By Jenifer Goodwin, BA, Freelance Writer  |  Thursday, August 21, 2014
Pictured: William Jarnagin, Karen Brown, Ghassan Abou-Alfa, Ghassan Abou-Alfa & Maz Gomez
Videos

Memorial Sloan Kettering experts discuss risk factors and treatments for liver cancer.

(87:30)

Surgery is usually the recommended treatment for liver cancer if the tumor is limited to one area of the liver and hasn't spread to nearby blood vessels, and if the liver is otherwise healthy enough. But for many patients, surgery isn’t the best option — or even possible, according to a panel of Memorial Sloan Kettering liver cancer experts. A variety of reasons, including underlying liver disease or the location, size, and number of tumors, can make treatment more challenging.

For those patients, the liver cancer treatment team may recommend other strategies as an alternative or complement to surgery. Those treatments can include chemotherapy, a liver transplant, or minimally invasive procedures that can destroy or interfere with tumor growth, including:

  • Delivering cancer-killing chemotherapy drugs via a catheter into the artery feeding the tumor, in a procedure known as chemoembolism
  • Injecting substances into the liver that cut off the blood supply the tumor needs for growth
  • Ablation, which involves inserting a heated probe into the tumor to kill it
  • Internal radiation therapy, which consists of injecting microscopic, radiation-packed capsules into the artery that supplies blood to the tumor.

The panel — which included a Memorial Sloan Kettering hepatologist (liver specialist), two oncologists, and a surgeon — discussed the latest advances in liver cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and research during a CancerSmart talk in May.

Watch the videos to learn more.

Comments

Hello,
Could someone please share on what treatment options are available for patients where the liver is impacted significantly and there is a shrinkage of the portal vein? The patient is close to 69 years old.

Dear Arun, unfortunately we cannot offer personal medical advice. Our doctors would need to evaluate the patient in order to make a treatment recommendation. In general, though, surgery is the preferred treatment for primary liver cancer if the tumor is confined to one area of the liver and has not spread to nearby blood vessels, and there is no underlying medical condition such as cirrhosis. If the cancer is more advanced, our doctors may recommend ablation, chemotherapy, or biologic therapy.

You can learn more about treatment options for primary liver cancer here: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/adult/liver/treatment and here: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/adult/liver/fibrolamellar-hepatocellular-carcinoma-fll-hcc.

Thanks so much for your question.

For unresectable cholangiocarcinoma, what are the patient's options and survival times? I have heard of cryo-ablation, is this a feasible option for this type of cancer?
Thanks.

Dear Fred, our liver cancer team treats patients with cholangiocarcinoma. Cryoablation is an interventional treatment option for patients, and you can watch a video about interventional techniques for liver cancer here: http://www.mskcc.org/videos/minimally-invasive-treatment-options-people-liver. Learn more about all the treatment options we offer our liver cancer patients here: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/adult/liver/approach. Thanks so much for reaching out, and we wish you the best.

Husband had surgery for cholangiocarcinoma approx 4 wks ago. Clean margins no follow up treatments recommended as not effective . We were also told that this type of cancer will return in approx 1 1/2 yrs. irregardless. Is PDT treatment or anything else advised

Rosina, unfortunately we we are not able to answer personal medical questions on our blog. This is something you should discuss with your husband's physician. If you'd like to make an appointment to speak with a doctor at MSK you can call 800-525-2225 during regular business hours or go to http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/appointment for more information. Thank you for your comment.

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