Liver Cancer Treatment Options

Liver Cancer Treatment

Once liver cancer is diagnosed and its stage is determined, your oncologist discusses what course of treatment is best for your situation. Many factors are taken into consideration before putting together a liver cancer treatment plan, such as the stage of cancer, your general health, and possible adverse side effects. The primary treatment options where liver cancer is concerned are tumor ablation or embolization, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.


When it comes to surgery, there are two treatment options: partial hepatectomy or a liver transplantation.

Partial hepatectomy entails the removal of a part of the liver and is often performed when there is one tumor that has not spread to surrounding tissues. Doctors rely on imaging tests to determine whether they can successfully remove the tumor in its entirety.

Though it is not easily available, a liver transplant is often the cleanest solution for individuals with smaller liver tumors. It is especially preferred in cases where surgery is not an option. A liver transplant is also a treatment option with the lowest risk of a recurrence.

Tumor Ablation

Tumor ablation is used to kill tumors when surgery could compromise the liver function or general health of the patient. Some types of ablation that are commonly used to treat liver cancer include radiofrequency ablation, ethanol ablation, and cryosurgery.


Embolization therapy such as arterial embolization and chemoembolization (a combination of embolization with chemotherapy) entails the injection of substances that hinder blood flow to cancerous cells in the liver. Embolization is a preferred treatment option for those who cannot undergo surgery or have tumors that are too large for ablation treatment.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is another commonly used treatment option that works by using high-energy rays to destroy malignant cells. Radiation therapy is often used to alleviate symptoms and not as common as ablation and embolization.


Chemotherapy is a standard treatment option for many types of cancers that involve the use of drugs that kill cancer cells, and the chemo drugs that are used for liver cancer are only a handful. Unfortunately, chemotherapy is not the most effective treatment option for liver cancer as most chemotherapy drugs prove to be ineffective when it comes to liver tumors.

Targeted Therapy

There are also drugs that can target specific actions in cells that result in cancer, and because chemotherapy drugs are not very effective when it comes to liver cancer, doctors have been opting or targeted therapies more.

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Liver Cancer Risks, Symptoms, and Treatment

Liver Cancer Risks, Symptoms, and Treatment

The liver is the largest organ in the body located above the stomach and beneath the diaphragm with many important responsibilities. The liver’s primary task is to filter the blood to detoxify harmful substances as well as metabolize alcohol and drugs. The liver is also responsible for the production of bile and proteins needed for functions such as blood clotting.  Hence, when the liver is under attack and cannot function properly, it can lead to serious complications. When malignant cells form in the liver, it is then diagnosed with primary liver cancer. So let’s take a look at liver cancer risks, symptoms, and treatment.

Liver Cancer Risk Factors

Numerous risk factors are associated with an increased chance of liver cancer. Some of these factors are a family history of liver cancer, a family history of liver diseases, being overweight/obese, and being a smoker.

Furthermore, men are at an increased risk of developing liver cancer than women. More importantly, a large portion of individuals who get diagnosed with liver cancer also have a condition known as cirrhosis, which is typically caused by excess alcohol use.

The Symptoms of Liver Cancer

People with primary liver cancer typically do not exhibit any signs and symptoms in the early stages. In most cases, symptoms appear in the later stages, and the earlier it gets caught, the easier the treatment usually is. The most common liver cancer symptoms include appetite loss with unplanned weight loss, nausea, swollen spleen and liver, abdominal pain and swelling, and jaundice.

Diagnosing Liver Cancer

When there are symptoms, doctors can look into your medical history, examine you, and order tests to determine whether they are the result of liver cancer. Imaging tests such as CT scans, MRIs, and bone scans may be used to look for cancer.

There are also blood tests that can provide information about your liver function to help your doctor reach a diagnosis, including liver function tests and blood clotting tests.

Treating Liver Cancer

In terms of liver cancer treatment options, surgery may be recommended to remove the tumor in combination with chemotherapy. In most cases, chemotherapy alone is not sufficient to destroy cancer cells, so it is typically used in combination with another treatment option.

Percutaneous ethanol injection is also used, which involves the injection of alcohol into the tumor to eliminate it. The treatment approach, prognosis, and life expectancy all depend on the stage of cancer and the overall health of the patient.

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Liver Cancer Diagnosis

Liver Cancer

People do not usually get screened for liver cancer, but it is recommended for those who are at an increased risk to get screened. People who are at a higher risk are those with cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, and those who consume excess alcohol.

Your Doctor

The first step in diagnosis entails a visit to your doctor where you discuss your symptoms. Your doctor will likely carry out a full physical examination, rule out other liver conditions that may be causing your symptoms, order blood tests to look for hepatitis and see how your kidneys are functioning. These are referred to as liver function tests and are used to eliminate the possibility of other liver diseases.

In some cases, to cover all bases, your doctor may also order imaging tests such as CT scans to look for tumors in the liver and the stage if there is any. The blood tests typically reveal whether any tumor markers are present in the blood. Increased levels of alpha-fetoprotein and iron can also point to liver cancer.

Your Oncologist

If your primary physician’s tests show that you have cancerous cells in your liver, you then get a referral to a specialist, an oncologist to carry out your care and treatment. Each case is different, so your oncologist is likely to order more tests, which can include MRIs, CT scans, and biopsies.

A CT scan is used to detect tumors inside the body, to determine where they are located, how big they are, and their type. MRIs are used to gather further information about the type of tumors in the body.

Your oncologist can also determine whether the tumor has metastasized by using an angiography. A biopsy may also be needed which entails removing some tissue from the liver to examine it further. In many cases, imaging tests are enough for a doctor to reach a conclusive diagnosis so a biopsy is rarely required.

Liver cancer diagnosis period involves a sizeable care team, from your oncologist to your pathologists, which means you are almost never alone and have constant support and help around you. However, it is also crucial to have a strong emotional support system outside the hospital.

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Understanding Liver Cancer Symptoms

Liver Cancer Symptoms

Usually, people with liver cancer do not exhibit any signs and symptoms in the early stages, which can be a concern as early diagnosis makes the treatment of liver cancer much easier. Hence, it is essential to be familiar and on the lookout for liver cancer symptoms and signs, as the earlier you begin treatment, the higher your chances of remission become.

Liver Cancer Primary Symptoms

Some of the most common early symptoms of liver cancer are appetite loss, unexplained weight loss, nausea, vomiting, swollen abdomen, itching, and discoloration in the eyes and skin. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible as you may have liver or another type of cancer.

Besides the primary symptoms, some people also report secondary symptoms such as bleeding and bruising easily and fever, as well as visibly dilated veins in the abdomen.

Liver Tumors

When a tumor forms in the liver, this causes hormonal imbalances in other parts of the body as well, which can result in a variety of symptoms including fatigue, low blood sugar, high cholesterol, growth of breasts, and an increase in red blood cell counts.

Diagnosing Liver Cancer

If you believe you may be exhibiting signs or symptoms of liver cancer, it may be a good idea to find a checklist to go over to see whether you are exhibiting the primary symptoms. Regardless of one or more symptoms checked off, it is best to consult a doctor about your concerns and to get an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment if you do have a type of liver cancer.

Numerous liver cancer symptoms can also be caused by other liver diseases, so it is highly recommended to get screened for both liver cancer and other liver conditions. You may need to get imaging tests such as CT scans for the detection of tumors, but further testing options such as MRI scans and biopsies are also available.

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Understanding Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma, also known as hypernephroma or renal cell cancer, is the most common type of kidney cancer. While it is quite serious, early diagnosis and treatment makes treatment much easier and remission a possibility.

It typically begins as one tumor in one kidney, but there cases where there are multiple tumors in one kidney or in both.

Men are at a higher risk than women, and this type of cancer often gets diagnosed among individuals aged 50 to 70.

Renal Cell Carcinoma Causes

Even though what exactly causes the disease has not been pinpointed, there are numerous known risk factors that can increase one’s risk of getting kidney cancer. For instance, being overweight/obese, a smoker, prolonged use of pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin, exposure to toxic chemicals like herbicides and dyes can all increase the risk of renal cell carcinoma.

A family history of kidney cancer, kidney diseases, and certain hereditary conditions that are strongly linked with renal cell carcinoma such as von Hippel-Lindau disease can also increase the chances of developing kidney cancer.

Understanding Renal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Most types of kidney cancer do not cause any noticeable signs and symptoms in the early stages. However, as the tumor advances or spreads, some symptoms that may appear include blood in the urine, a lump in the abdomen or on the side, lower back pain, loss of appetite with unexplained weight loss, feeling fatigued, fever, hypertension, and anemia.

Treating Renal Cell Carcinoma

In most cases, the preferred approach to treatment is surgery, or nephrectomy to be exact, which entails the removal of a part of the entirety of a kidney along with surrounding tissue if required. You may need a partial, simple, or radical nephrectomy depending on the stage. If the tumor is not too large, a nephrectomy typically suffices, but in more advanced stages, combining surgery with other treatments may be needed.

There are also biologic drugs like interleukin-2 that work by bolstering your immune system response to cancerous cells. Targeted therapy may also be preferred, which work by targeting proteins and blood vessels that tumors need to thrive.

The course of treatment and its efficacy entirely depend on the specific case and whether the cancer has spread when you get a diagnosis. The survival rate is higher for kidney cancer when it is caught early and has not had time to spread to other organs and tissues in the body.

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Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, starts in the kidneys, the bean-shaped organs located in the back of the abdomen. In most cases, it is diagnosed early before the tumors spread to other parts of the body, which makes the treatment of this type of cancer much easier.

What Causes Kidney Cancer?

Though the exact causes are unknown, there are numerous risk factors associated with the development of kidney cancer. Some of these risk factors include certain hereditary conditions such as von Hippel-Lindau disease, a family history and diseases, obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

People with kidney cancer do not typically exhibit any symptoms in the early stages until their tumors become larger in later stages. Some common symptoms are bloody urine, a lump in the lower back or the side, lower back pain, fever, fatigue, appetite loss, unexplained weight loss, and anemia.

While these symptoms may also point to a urinary tract infection or another condition, it is important to consult a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

There are numerous tests that doctors can rely on to conclusively diagnose patients. A physical examination may be the first step as doctors can feel whether there is a lump on your side or in your abdomen.

Doctors can also check for other symptoms such as fever and blood pressure levels as well as take a look at your medical history and family history of kidney disease. If your doctor believes you may have kidney cancer based on your symptoms and the preliminary examination, there are more tests that can be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

Imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs are often used to detect tumors in the kidney. In many cases, people get a kidney cancer diagnosis when they get imaging tests done to look for another disease, which is why this type of cancer is often caught early.

Once it is positive that you have kidney cancer, you are typically referred to an oncologist for treatment whose approach entirely depends on the stage of the cancer. Some common treatment options include nephrectomy (partial or complete removal of the kidney), radiofrequency ablation, cryotherapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

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How Is Kidney Cancer Treated?

How Is Kidney Cancer Treated

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the back of the abdomen that filter waste from the blood, stabilize bodily fluids, produce urine, and more. Though there are different types of kidney cancer, the type that adults most commonly get diagnosed with is renal cell carcinoma. So how is kidney cancer treated?

Most individuals do not exhibit any signs and symptoms of kidney cancer in early stages, but kidney cancer is often caught early and highly treatable. In many cases, kidney cancer is detected with imaging tests such as CT scans while looking for another condition, which is why it often gets diagnosed before it gets a chance to spread to other body parts.

Understanding the Symptoms and Treatments for Kidney Cancer

The kidneys can almost completely stop functioning properly and result in no clear symptoms until there is severe damage, which can also be caused by kidney cancer. In most cases, most individuals do not exhibit any signs and symptoms in the early stages of kidney cancer, but if their tumor(s) is large and as it gets larger, symptoms begin to show such as:

  • Pain and lumps on the side or in the abdomen
  • Dark/pink urine due to blood
  • Appetite loss and unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue and fever
  • Swelling of the lower limbs

Furthermore, symptoms such as breathlessness, coughing with blood, and joint pain may mean that the cancer has spread to other organs.

When caught early, surgery is typically the preferred treatment option to remove the cancerous cells from the kidneys such as a simple, radical, or partial nephrectomy. Radical nephrectomy is the most standard surgery type that is performed to remove the kidney and adrenal gland along with the tissue surrounding the kidney.

Simple nephrectomy refers to the removal of only the kidney. Partial nephrectomy is performed to remove some surrounding tissue along with the kidney. In cases where the cancer has spread to other organs, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be required in tandem with surgery.

In cases where surgery is not a viable option, some other treatment approaches depending on the case and stage are radiofrequency ablation, cryotherapy, arterial embolization, and targeted therapy.

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Stages of Kidney Cancer

Stages of Kidney Cancer

Renal cancer, also known as kidney cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys. The stages of kidney cancer are similar to other forms of cancer, depending on how advanced the condition has become and how large the tumors are.

Staging kidney cancer is important because the stage of the cancer determines the appropriate treatment. The letters that make up the system used to stage kidney cancer are TNM.

What Are The T Stages?

The T portion is for the identification of the tumor size and whether it has spread to surrounding tissues.

Stage T0

No tumor present in the kidney.

Stage T1

A tumor smaller than 7 cm is present, confined to the kidney. There are two classes of T1 tumors. T1a is used to categorize a tumor that is smaller than 4 cm, whereas T1b is used to categorize one that is 4-7 cm.

Stage T2

T2 is used to refer to a tumor that is larger than 7 cm but is still only confined to the kidney. T2 also has two subclasses: T2a is 7-10 cm, but T2b is larger than 10 cm.

Stage T3

T3 means the tumor has spread to the tissue surrounding the kidney and the main artery but not the adrenal gland. T3a is used to categorize a tumor that is spreading to a major vein or surrounding tissue of the kidney. T3b is used to refer to a tumor that is spreading to a major vein that moves into the heart. T3c is used to refer to a tumor that is spreading to the portion of the vena cava situated in the chest.

Stage T4

T4 means that the cancerous cells have spread to distant organs and tissues in the body.

What Are the N Stages?

The N identification is reserved for tumors that have spread to lymph nodes. There are three primary stages of kidney cancer in the lymph nodes, which are N0, N1, and N2.

N0 means that the cancer has not grown into any lymph nodes, whereas N1 means one close-by lymph node has been targeted by the tumor. N2 is the stage where the tumor has spread to multiple lymph nodes.

What Are the M Stages?

The M identification is for the staging of metastases, which identifies whether the cancer has spread to other organs in the body such as the liver, lungs, and brain. There are only two M stages, which are M0 and M1. M0 means that the tumor has not spread while M1 means the cancer has metastasized and is in an advanced stage.

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Kidney Cancer Signs and Detection

Kidney Cancer Signs

Kidney cancer starts in the kidneys and can be life-threatening if it spreads to other parts of the body just like most types of cancer. In most cases, people do not exhibit any kidney cancer signs and symptoms in early stages if their tumors are not large.

Kidney Cancer Signs and Symptoms

In later stages and cases where there are large tumors, some common kidney cancer signs and symptoms that may appear are the presence of blood in the urine, pain in the lower back, lumps on the back or sides, appetite loss, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and fever.

While these symptoms may point to kidney cancer or another type of cancer, they may also indicate the presence of another condition. For instance, bloody urine can be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Nonetheless, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Kidney Cancer Early Detection

In many cases, kidney cancers are diagnosed early when they have not spread to any other tissues and organs in the body. However, some kidney cancers are detected in later stages as some tumors can become large without causing any symptoms. Furthermore, it is impossible to detect tumors in the kidneys with a physical examination, and there aren’t any tests in use for those who are not at a high risk of developing kidney cancer.

There are tests that can detect kidney tumors early such as routine urine tests, CT scans, and MRIs, but they are not necessarily recommended for those who are not at high risk. Urine tests can look for the presence of blood in the urine, but there are numerous conditions that can cause blood in the urine.

CT scans and MRIs can also detect cancers in the kidney but they are costly. In many cases, kidney cancers are diagnosed by chance at an early stage with a CT scan or MRI, which is ordered to look for an entirely different condition.

Those who are at an increased risk of getting kidney cancer have a different case, however. People who have a family history of kidney cancer or certain hereditary diseases that are associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer like von Hippel-Lindau disease should get screened with imaging tests for kidney cancer on the regular.

Individuals who have had prolonged dialysis treatment for a kidney disease or failure are also at a higher risk of kidney cancer and are recommended to get regularly screened for kidney cancer.

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Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that targets cells in the kidney, resulting in their abnormal growth and replication. While kidney cancer is typically detected before it spreads to other organs, the cancerous tumors can potentially become quite large, which is why early diagnosis is very crucial when it comes to kidney cancer. In particular, early symptoms of kidney cancer can be hard to detect.

There are numerous risk factors that can contribute to the development of kidney cancer. Old age increases the risk of kidney cancer, for instance, as well as a family history of kidney cancer, being a smoker, being obese, and having high blood pressure.

Understanding the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

While kidney cancer typically does not cause any symptoms in the early stages, in later stages, some symptoms that may appear include unexplained weight loss, dark urine (blood), tiredness, chronic back pain or pain on the side of the body, and fever.

While these symptoms may not always necessarily point to kidney cancer but can simply indicate an infection, it is still important to consult a doctor if you experience any of them. In case it is kidney cancer, early diagnosis can make treatment of kidney cancer much easier.

In diagnosing kidney cancer, doctors usually rely on a physical examination and look into the patient’s medical history for growths, fever, and hypertension. Your physician may also order blood tests and urine samples for further screening of kidney function.

For instance, if there is too much creatine in your bloodstream, this may point to an irregularity in kidney function. A CT scan or an MRI may also be helpful in diagnosing tumors in the kidneys.

Treating Kidney Cancer

Once you get an accurate kidney cancer diagnosis, your doctor devises an appropriate treatment plan to battle the cancerous cells. Some common treatment options depending on the case include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Some patients may receive a combination of treatments for extra measure.

Kidney cancer treatment mainly aims to eliminate cancer cells but also relieve symptoms associated with kidney cancer such as pain. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both common treatment options to remove tumors, but surgery may also be more commonly recommended to remove a part or the entirety of a kidney that is targeted by the cancer, which is an operation known as nephrectomy.

There are three types of nephrectomy: radical, simple, and partial. In a radical nephrectomy, the kidney and surrounding tissue are removed, as well as sometimes the lymph nodes. In a simple nephrectomy, only the kidney is removed. Finally, in a partial nephrectomy, only the tumor(s) along with the surrounding tissue is removed from the kidney.

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