What is the treatment for metastatic liver cancer?

Ajay K. Sahajpal, MD
Transplant Surgery

The management of metastatic liver cancer requires a multidisciplinary approach and should involve a tumor board.

Depending on both tumor factors and patient factors the team will design an approach. This may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and locoregional therapy to the liver.

The first line approach is usually surgery however in some cases it isn't always possible and a combination of other approaches is used including:

  • ablation (radiofrequency/microwave)
  • Chemoembolization: chemotherapy coated beads directed via artery into tumor
  • Radioembolization: radiation coated beads directed via artery into tumor
  • systemic chemotherapy
In general, the most effective treatment for tumors that have spread (metastasized) to the liver is complete surgical removal. However, in general, this option is limited to patients who have no evidence of other organ involvement by metastatic cancer, and in patients who can undergo complete removal of all detectable metastatic liver tumors with reasonable safety.
In patients with extensive involvement of the liver with metastatic tumors, or who have other factors that make liver resection unwise, other treatment options may still be available.  One such treatment option is "ablation" (destruction) of liver tumors with various types of energy devices.  Other treatment options include "chemoembolization" or "chemoradioembolization" of liver tumors, which involve the injection of chemotherapy drugs or radioactive particles into the blood vessels that supply the liver, as well as other types of particles that work by physically clogging-up the blood vessels that feed metastatic liver tumors.  For many types of metastatic liver tumors, chemotherapy may also be effective in shrinking or stabilizing these tumors.
Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
Author, "A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race"

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.