The treatment you have will usually depend on:
- where the cancer is in the liver – there may be several areas of cancer in different parts of the liver
- the size of the tumour or tumours
- how many tumours there are
- whether the cancer has spread outside the liver
- whether any important blood vessels in the liver are affected
- how well your liver is working
- your general health.
Surgery may cure HCC. This may involve a liver transplant or an operation to remove part of the liver. But often surgery is not possible. This might be because the cancer is too advanced or the liver is too damaged to cope with surgery.
Some people may have tumour ablation. This is where a doctor applies heat or alcohol to the cancer cells to destroy them.
Chemoembolisation is when chemotherapy is put into the liver and the blood supply to the tumour is cut off. Doctors may recommend this treatment when the cancer is advanced in the liver but has not spread outside it. It may help to control the cancer and prolong your life. Another treatment called radioembolisation works in a similar way. It uses radiation instead of chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.
Doctors may use a targeted therapy drug called sorafenib. This may be given if the cancer is advanced in the liver or has spread outside it. Sometimes chemotherapy may be used. It may control the cancer, prolong your life and reduce the symptoms. Radiotherapy may be used to relieve pain if the cancer has spread to a part of the body, such as the bones. Doctors are looking at newer treatments and different ways of giving existing treatments. Your specialist may talk to you about taking part in a research trial.
If you decide not to have treatment, there is a still a lot that can be done to control symptoms and support you. Your doctor can refer you to a team of doctors and nurses who specialise in controlling symptoms. This is called a palliative care team.