Liver Cancer Radiation Treatment Options
Liver cancer radiation treatment through WorldMed Assist is within your financial means. We work with exceptional hospitals inside and outside the US. The international hospitals collaborate with leading US hospitals, including John Hopkins and Harvard Medical, to provide innovative medical care. Our registered nurses make all arrangements necessary for the success of your procedure. Our services carry the promise of quality medical care with individual attention to your needs.
Most importantly, we provide you with a personal touch from start until well after your return home.
The Role Of Radiation Therapy In Liver Cancer Radiation Treatment
The basic idea behind radiation therapy is the use of high energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cell DNA. It does this by damaging the cell before it is able to divide, thereby eradicating the cell. Radiation therapy may either involve the use of beams that are directed from an external source, or from an internally planted radioactive material.
Other forms of treatment such as chemotherapy may be combined with radiation treatments.
Compared with other cases of malignant tumor growths, radiation therapy plays a somewhat minor role in treating liver cancers. This is because tumors that metastasize to the liver become resistant to radiation. On the other hand, cells from a healthy liver are very sensitive to radiation and may be damaged in the process. Since the goal of radiation for liver cancer is to destroy tumor cells while protecting normal cells from damage, radiation therapy may not be available for all liver cancer patients.
What does the procedure involve?
A specialist called a Radiation Oncologist will determine if Liver Cancer radiation treatments are appropriate for a patient with a liver tumor. If approved the, treatment site will be identified and marked with permanent ink so that the rays will be directs at the same area in each session.
In most liver cancer cases radiation therapy will be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, usually surgery. In fact, liver cancer radiation therapy is often applied at the time of surgery in a process called “intraoperative radiation”. Radiation is also used in order to relieve pain from the tumor.
The entire process will last anywhere from 2 to 7 weeks, depending on the type of cancerous tumor and its location within the liver. The patient will receive radiation doses administered 5 days a week, with weekends allotted for time off to allow the patient to recover for the next week.
Side effects of radiation therapy in treating liver cancer
Radiation treatment for liver cancer will cause damage to healthy cells in the vicinity of the treatment site. Thus a patient will likely experience side effects and symptoms of discomfort during and after the treatment. Side effects may include skin irritations at the site, nausea, vomiting and other digestive interferences, hair loss, and changes in sexual functions.
It should also be noted that other side affects may result due to the fact that the radiation therapy is combined with other forms of treatment or surgery. Multiple or compound side effects may result from the combination of stresses on the body during treatments.
External radiation has different side effects from internal radiation techniques. External radiation mostly affects tissues that are near the local exposure area. On the other hand, internal radiation (brachytherapy) involves implanting a seed of radioactive material in or near the tumor.
For this reason, the entire body may become radioactive when internal radiation techniques are used. Once the implants are inserted in the body, they will emit radioactive waves that may also affect other people who are near the patient. Clients should understand the risks involved in this type of therapy when determining which type of treatment is appropriate and understand all the side effects of radiation therapy.
Are there any newer alternatives in treating liver cancer?
Perhaps more than any other type of cancer, liver cancer requires a high degree of accuracy when administering radiation treatments. Newer alternatives in cancer treatment focus specifically on minimizing the extent to which healthy cells are damaged in the process.
An example of such an alternative is Cyberknife therapy.
Cyberknife treatments involve the use of a robotic arm to guide external beams placed at multiple angles in order to cover the entire malignant growth. Previous technology did not allow radiation to reach the sites from various angles. Cyberknife also uses a frameless system that uses the body’s skeleton to provide a comprehensive rendering of the body for reference points.
Cyberknife may be a step forward in providing liver cancer patients with more treatment options than they previously had in the past. The therapy treatments do not make the entire body radioactive as is the case with internal radiation. Side effects are greatly minimized through the use of these techniques.