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Childhood Liver Cancer Treatment

Surgery as a Childhood Liver Cancer Treatment

When possible, the cancer is removed by surgery. Different surgery options for childhood liver cancer treatment include:
 
  • Partial hepatectomy: Removal of the part of the liver where cancer is found. The part removed may be a wedge of tissue, an entire lobe, or a larger part of the liver, along with a small amount of normal tissue around it.
     
  • Total hepatectomy and liver transplant: Removal of the entire liver and replacement with a healthy liver from a donor. A liver transplant may be possible when cancer has not spread beyond the liver and a donated liver can be found. If the patient has to wait for a donated liver, other treatment is given as needed.
     
  • Resection of metastases: Surgery to remove cancer that has spread outside of the liver, such as to nearby tissues, the lungs, or the brain.
     
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy is sometimes given before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy afterwards to kill any remaining cancer cells. Treatment given after the surgery to increase the chances of a cure is called adjuvant therapy.
 

Chemotherapy as a Childhood Liver Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.
 
When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (this is called systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (this is called regional chemotherapy).
 
Chemoembolization of the hepatic artery (the main artery that supplies blood to the liver) is a type of regional chemotherapy used to treat childhood liver cancer. An anti-cancer drug is injected into the hepatic artery through a catheter (thin tube). The drug is mixed with a substance that blocks the artery, cutting off blood flow to the tumor. Most of the anti-cancer drug is trapped near the tumor, and only a small amount of the drug reaches other parts of the body. The blockage may be temporary or permanent, depending on the substance used to block the artery. The tumor is prevented from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to grow. The liver continues to receive blood from the hepatic portal vein, which carries blood from the stomach and intestine.
 
Treatment using more than one anti-cancer drug is called combination chemotherapy. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
 
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Childhood Liver Cancer Info

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