Liver cancer is a fairly common form of cancer. It affects about 34,000 people each year. The type of treatment that is recommended for liver cancer depends on the stage of cancer as well as the age and overall health of the patient.
The doctor may recommend the following treatments.
Surgery may be recommended if the patient is in the early stages of liver cancer. If the cancer has spread, then a patient will not be considered a candidate for surgery. The doctor will remove the cancerous cells and a portion of the liver. If a portion of the liver is removed, then the remaining portion of the liver can regenerate itself.
The doctor may recommend a liver transplant. However, there are several requirements that have to be met in order for one to be considered a good candidate for a liver transplant. The tumor has to be smaller than 5 centimeters. If the patient has more than one tumor, then they have to be smaller than 3 centimeters.
Patients can live a normal life after they get a liver transplant. Cancer will also be much less likely to grow back if the patient has a liver transplant. However, a liver transplant does come with several risks. There is always a possibility that the body will see the new liver as a foreign object and reject it.
Patients have to take anti-rejection drugs. These drugs tend to suppress the immune system and can put one at risk for suffering a severe infection. If the patient has other tumors, then the drugs can cause them to spread.
If liver cancer is in the lymph nodes or other parts of the body, then the patient may be advised to get chemotherapy. The chemotherapy helps shrink the tumors. It may sometimes be recommended after surgery in order to prevent cancer from coming back.
Chemotherapy can cause you to feel sick. You may feel nauseous and vomit. There are tablets that you can take to get rid of your nausea and vomiting. You may have to try several medications before you find one that works.
Hair loss is another possible side effect of chemotherapy. Most of the hair loss will occur within the first one or two months of chemotherapy. There isn't much you can do about hair loss. However, it may be helpful for you to wear a cold cap.
Chemotherapy can weaken the immune system. You may be at a greater risk of suffering an infection. Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics in order to prevent infections. There are also vaccinations that you may have to take, such as pneumonia shots and flu shots.
Furthermore, chemotherapy can cause anemia. This is a condition where your iron count is lower than it is supposed to. Symptoms of anemia include fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, fatigue, and pale complexion.
You can prevent anemia by eating foods that are rich in iron. This includes lamb, beef, dried fruit, and beans. Chemotherapy can lower your platelet count. Platelets help your blood clot. That is why you may be more susceptible to bruising and bleeding.
Radiation therapy uses energy that is similar to x-rays. It works by destroying the tumors and cancerous cells. Radiation therapy may be recommended if the cancer is in an area that is hard to reach. Radiation therapy can target cancer while not interfering with your healthy cells by using advanced technology.
Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy can sometimes cause unpleasant side effects. Fatigue is a common side effect. It may be difficult for you to do your daily activities. The fatigue may also not go away even if you go to sleep.
Skin problems are also common among radiation patients. Your skin may be blistered, swollen, and irritated. Other possible side effects include low blood counts and hair loss. There are drugs that you can take that can lessen the effects of radiation therapy.
Ablation is a treatment that involves the use of extreme cold or heat to kill a tumor. If it is not possible for the doctor to perform surgery, then you may be a candidate for ablation.
Proton therapy is considered an alternative to radiation therapy. It is a treatment that uses proton particles to stop the tumor from growing. It is considered safer than radiation therapy.
However, it is important to note that proton therapy is more costly than radiation therapy. There are also insurance plans that will not cover it.
There are a few cancer treatment centers that offer targeted therapy. It involves using drugs that stop cancerous cells from growing by cutting off blood flow and interfering with certain proteins. The tumor dies because it is restricted to what it needs to stay alive.
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