Liver cancer can be treated with surgery if it is found early enough so that the entire tumor can be removed, leaving enough healthy liver behind.
When surgery is not an option, ablation may be used to treat liver cancer. A small, needle-like probe is inserted into the tumor to destroy cancer cells. CoxHealth offers two types of ablation. This procedure can be done in the operating room or in radiology:
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
RFA uses high-energy radio waves that heat the tumor and destroy cancer cells.
Microwave ablation is similar to RFA, but uses microwaves instead of radio waves.
Embolization blocks or reduces the blood flow to cancer cells in the liver. In radioemoblization, small radioactive beads, known as microspheres, are injected into the hepatic artery. The beads give off radiation to the tumor site for several days, without damaging healthy tissue. Treatment is administered by an interventional radiologist as an outpatient procedure.
Ytrium-90, or Y-90, is a relatively new radioembolization treatment. It was first brought to the Ozarks by CoxHealth in 2013. Y-90 offers patients extended and improved quality of life with fewer side effects when compared to standard liver cancer treatment. For a small number of patients, treatment may cause the tumor to shrink enough that surgical removal becomes a treatment option.
During chemoembolization, otherwise known as trans-arterial chemoembolization (TACE), tiny beads that give off chemotherapy are injected into the tumor. The chemotherapy levels delivered to the tumor far exceed those that would be considered safe if the chemotherapy was given systemically.