Liver Cancer Treatment Options

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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