Cancer Home > Liver Cancer Chemotherapy
In many cases, doctors will use regional chemotherapy to treat liver cancer; however, the exact type of chemotherapy administered depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. Side effects associated with chemotherapy may include an increased risk of infection, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells 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).
Regional chemotherapy is often used to treat liver cancer. A small pump containing anticancer drugs may be placed in the body. The pump puts the drugs directly into the blood vessels that go to the tumor.
Another type of regional liver cancer chemotherapy is chemoembolization of the hepatic artery. The anticancer 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 anticancer 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.
The way the liver cancer chemotherapy is administered depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.