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What Are the Different Types of Medicine for Liver Cancer?

By M. West
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several treatment options available for those suffering from cancer of the liver. One medicine for liver cancer treatment is chemotherapy, which can be administered intravenously or in a process called chemoembolization, where the drug is injected into the hepatic artery of the liver. Targeted therapy using a drug called sorafenib is sometimes used, which slows the growth of live cancer and interferes with its blood supply. Another option is the injection of alcohol into the liver tumor. In addition to medication, non-drug treatment options are available, such as radiation therapy, surgery, and the process of freezing or heating cancer cells.

Chemotherapy, which is using drugs to destroy cancer cells, can be administered in a hospital, a doctor's office, or in the patient's home. Although side effects will differ depending on the type and quantity of drug used, common reactions include nausea and vomiting, poor appetite, and weakness. Headaches as well as fever and chills are also frequently experienced. Some drugs which belong to this area of medicine for liver cancer will render the patient more likely to contract infections. These can also cause the patient to bruise, bleed, and feel very fatigued.

Another method of administering chemotherapy drugs is through embolization, referred to as chemoembolization. Embolization is the process of inserting a block into the hepatic artery of the liver to cut off the blood supply. In chemoembolization, an anticancer drug is administered into the artery before the block in set in place. The process causes the drug to remain in the liver for a longer period of time. This procedure of providing medicine for liver cancer can have adverse effects such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Sorafenib is a targeted drug therapy considered for patients who are unable to have surgery or undergo a liver transplant. This medicine for liver cancer will hinder the tumor from growing for a few months. Adverse reactions can include nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite. Mouth sores, chest pain, and bleeding may also occur. In addition, the drug can produce high blood pressure.

The insertion of alcohol into the liver tumor is a treatment that can be administered either through the skin or during surgery. Alcohol's benefit is that it causes tumor cells to dry and eventually die. The injections may be given once or twice a week normally under local anesthesia, although general anesthesia may sometimes be required. This medicine for liver cancer may cause fever and pain. If these adverse effects occur, a doctor may prescribe something to alleviate them.

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