Treatment for Liver Cancer

At Fox Chase Cancer Center, our multidisciplinary medical team works closely to accurately diagnose your liver cancer and help you understand your options so that you can make an informed decision about your treatment. As a regional and national leader in cancer care, Fox Chase Cancer Center has a wealth of experience treating all types of liver cancer. Our skilled gastrointestinal oncology team meets regularly to review patient cases and map out a personalized treatment plan. We strive to treat your cancer in the least invasive way possible using innovative surgical techniques and combination therapies that give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Our doctors are also actively involved in developing new therapies for treating liver cancer. Through clinical trials, we are able to offer our patients access to promising treatments and experimental therapies that may not be available elsewhere. Ask your Fox Chase doctor if a clinical trial is right for you.

Your Treatment Options

Treatment for liver cancer depends on the stage, type, and grade of your tumor; status of underlying liver diseases; whether it has invaded other tissues; and your age, health history, and personal goals. Your personalized treatment plan will be created after consultations with physicians within our multidisciplinary team and may include a combination of one or more of the following treatment options: surgery, liver-directed ablative therapy, systemic therapy, and radiation therapy.

Surgery and Liver-directed Ablative Therapies

Fox Chase liver surgeons offer an individually-tailored surgical approach to liver cancer that integrates the patient’s functional status and stage. Our doctors continually develop new approaches to effectively treat this cancer through minimally-invasive (laparoscopic) surgery when appropriate. Other cancer therapies may accompany surgery. Patients who are eligible for surgical removal of their liver tumors have access to Fox Chase surgeons who have experience with this procedure. This technique is used whenever possible, as it offers patients the greatest chance of cure. Patients who are eligible for surgery but have advanced cirrhosis will be referred to the Liver Transplant Center at Temple University Hospital. The transplant evaluation process will be facilitated at Fox Chase.

For patients whose liver tumors cannot be safely removed by surgery, ablative techniques may provide an alternative to surgery to destroy tumors. These techniques are not curative but could provide relief to cancer symptoms:

  • Tumor ablation using radiofrequency, microwave or cryotherapy
  • Radioembolization
  • Chemoembolization
  • Bland embolization

Gastrointestinal surgeons at Fox Chase Cancer Center are regional and national leaders in performing complex surgeries for patients with liver cancer.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy (external or internal) may be used to treat liver cancer to shrink tumors prior to surgery, prevent recurrence after surgery, alleviate pain, or treat disease that has spread. External beam radiation therapy delivers radiation from outside of the body using x-rays. This treatment is frequently done using complex techniques such as 3D-conformal radiation or intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). These are sophisticated techniques that maximize the dose to the tumor while minimizing the radiation delivered to adjacent normal tissues. For patients whose tumors are appropriate, liver tumors can be treated with stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), which consists of 3-5 treatments of high dose radiation delivered with great precision. Another option is radioembolization, which is internal radiation delivered to liver tumors using tiny microspheres.

Radiation therapy is administered by Fox Chase radiation oncologists, who were the first in the region to integrate the CT Scan and MRI into treatment planning. Fox Chase Cancer Center is a regional and national leader in the use of cutting edge techniques in radiation therapy to treat patients with many different types of cancer.

Systemic Therapy

The medical oncologists at Fox Chase Cancer Center are regional and national leaders in the treatment of liver cancer. As part of the multidisciplinary team, your medical oncologist will help to determine your personalized treatment plan, which may include systemic therapies, such as targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy, either as standard of care or as part of a clinical trial.

Systemic therapy may be given before or after surgery to patients with invasive or locally advanced liver cancer. It may also be recommended to patients who are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic cancer).

Treatment Options for Liver Metastases

Liver tumors coming from another source (e.g., colon, stomach, lung) are called metastases. Our multidisciplinary team works together to increase survival rates among these patients.