Liver Cancer Treatment
Liver Cancer Doctor Treatment Recommendations
If you were diagnosed with liver cancer - either primary or secondary cancer - some of your treatment options may include surgery, liver transplantation, medicine, and minimally invasive interventional radiology (IR) procedures. At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, our team of dedicated interventional radiologists, physician assistants, and nurses will work closely with your primary care or oncology doctors to give you personalized, optimal treatment for your case.
What Are Some IR Treatments for Liver Cancer?
IR treatments for liver cancer are minimally invasive, targeted procedures designed to treat liver cancer without damaging nearby tissue. These treatments combine image guidance (X-rays, ultrasound, CT, or MRI), heat or cold energy, specialized catheters, and/or tiny particles to destroy liver tumors or control their progression.
Over the last several decades, IR treatments have played an increasing role for liver cancer patients. Because most liver cancers are discovered at an advanced stage, surgery often is not possible. Additionally, liver cancer patients often have underlying cirrhosis, so are at a greater risk of liver toxicity from systemic cancer treatment. Minimally invasive IR therapies offer liver cancer patients hope by targeting cancer cells directly.
IR treatments for liver cancer care that are commonly performed at our practice include:
- Tumor ablation — The interventional radiologist guides a thin probe or needle directly into the liver tumor with the help of image guidance. Once the probe is in place, we deliver heat or cold energy, which directly kills the cancer cells. An example of heat ablation is “microwave ablation”, while the term “cryoablation” is used to describe freezing the tumor. In some cases, tumor-killing chemicals can be injected directly into the tumor. These ablative treatments are most effective against smaller tumors.
- Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE) — TACE is a special IR treatment that delivers tumor-killing particles into the arteries that directly feed the tumor. In this technique, your doctor will guide a tiny catheter into the liver arteries through a pinhole incision in the wrist or hip and will inject the anti-cancer drugs directly into the tumor.
- Radioembolization (Y-90) — This is another treatment that pairs radiation therapy with embolization (blocking of blood vessels). In this procedure, an interventional radiologist guides a catheter into the liver arteries and delivers a specialized tiny particle with Yttrium-90 (a radioactive isotope) directly into the blood vessels supplying the tumor. The radioactive energy from these particles kills tumor tissue after the procedure.
Benefits of IR Therapies for Liver Cancer
Your team of doctors at Vascular & Interventional Partners can use IR therapies to treat many forms of liver cancer. These treatments can often happen at the same time as other cancer treatments or as part of a larger palliative care plan. Because IR treatments are minimally invasive, they come with fewer risks and complications. But their benefits go way beyond that:
- IR liver cancer treatments are available in outpatient clinics, which means less time spent in hospitals. Less waiting time, and less exposure to hospital infectious diseases.
- These are often suitable for patients with multiple, large, and complex tumors for which surgery or radiation is not possible.
- IR therapies target tumors directly while preserving surrounding liver tissue and general health.
- Some of these treatments can shrink liver tumors to increase life expectancy and improve quality of life.
IR therapies can be used alongside surgery, chemotherapy or liver transplant as a combined strategy to treat cancer with the maximum medical technology available.
Why Choose Vascular & Interventional Partners?
At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, we understand that IR is just one component of liver cancer treatment and that it requires a multidisciplinary approach. That is why we have a team of five leading interventional radiologists, physician assistants, nurses, and technicians, all working together to ensure you get the best treatment for your case.
The doctors at VIP collectively perform the largest number of IR liver cancer treatments in the state of Arizona. Whether ablation, TACE, or Y90 radioembolization, our extensive experience makes our group the first choice for many patients and oncologists in the region. We have many years of experience working with liver cancer patients in hospital settings and are now offering our expertise to outpatients in a more comfortable, personalized setting.
ViP physicians are board-certified by the American Board of Radiology in Interventional Radiology/Diagnostic Radiology and are members of the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) and the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society (OEIS).
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you perform IR liver cancer treatments?
The interventional radiologist uses imaging technology to help guide a flexible catheter from a small puncture in your thigh, through your femoral artery and to the liver to find the location of the tumor (angiogram). Once the interventionalist detected the tumor, they then use a catheter with a probe to deliver treatment (ablation, embolization, cancer medicine).
How effective are IR liver cancer therapies?
The effectiveness of IR cancer therapies depends on the cancer stage, liver health, and general health. Many of these treatments increase the 5-year survival rates, some by as much as 63% when the tumor is localized.
Can ablation cure primary and secondary liver cancer?
Embolization is suitable for patients with medium size and large liver tumors, and relatively good liver function. While it does not typically cure liver cancer, it can be used to prolong life, make other surgical treatments possible, or as part of a palliative care plan.
Can I repeat radiofrequency ablation?
Recurrence of localized tumors after radiofrequency ablation is common. Repeat ablation is safe and can help treat cancer recurrence in patients whose tumors progressed locally. Radiofrequency ablation uses heat produced by radio waves to cause controlled damage to tumors and is generally considered safe and with few complications.
Are IR liver cancer treatments painful?
IR therapies for liver cancer are usually not painful. We use local anesthesia and IV sedation to reduce discomfort during the procedure. Most of our treatments are so well-tolerated that general anesthesia is not even necessary.
What is the recovery like after IR liver cancer treatment?
Your provider will sometimes make a small incision in your skin to access the artery and you may feel mild pressure but no pain during the entire procedure. The area of treatment may feel sore a day after your procedure.