Liver cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers. It is difficult to cure and most patients are not candidates for surgery. However, specialized clinics are successfully coping with even this severe oncopathology. Doctors use microwave ablation, focused high-intensity ultrasound, chemoembolization, radioembolization, proton therapy and the latest medications to fight malignant tumors. You can undergo liver cancer treatment in centers abroad to take advantage of the advances in modern medicine. On the Booking Health website you can find available treatment options and prices for medical services, including liver cancer stage 4 treatment cost.
Surgery is the only way to cure liver cancer. Approximately 20% of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma are considered candidates for radical surgery to remove the tumor. The rest do not undergo surgery because of advanced stage oncopathology or poor liver function. In many patients, liver function is deteriorated because the cancer usually develops against a background of chronic viral hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Surgical treatment offers the best patient survival rates of all treatment options. But liver interventions are complex and unsafe. They are best performed in centers with extensive experience. German specialists perform surgery with minimal risk of complications.
Local therapy: ablation
Ablation is the destruction of a liver tumor. The technique is used in patients who are not considered candidates for surgery. Small tumors that are away from large bile ducts and blood vessels can be destroyed.
Most commonly, doctors use radiofrequency ablation. It helps destroy tumors up to 5 cm in size. It is a minimally invasive procedure: doctors insert a probe into the tumor and heat it. This causes the necrosis of a malignant neoplasm.
In some situations, microwave ablation is preferred. It’s done when:
- The tumor is large, up to 8 cm
- The tumor has a complex configuration
- The tumor is located near large vessels (but not closer than 1 cm)
The principle of action is the same: a probe is inserted into the liver tissue and the tumor is destroyed by thermal action. During microwave ablation, the tissue is heated more intensely. The procedure takes less time, 5 minutes on average.
Embolization of the hepatic artery
For large, multiple tumors located near blood vessels and bile ducts, doctors use hepatic artery embolization. The method is used as stage 4 liver cancer therapy.
The vessels feeding the neoplasm are blocked with emboli. As a result, the blood supply to the neoplasm deteriorates and the tumor shrinks. At the same time, healthy liver tissue is almost unaffected, as it receives 75% of its blood from the portal vein and only 25% from the hepatic artery. Cancer cells, on the other hand, receive 90% of their blood supply from the blocked arteries.
Embolization is rarely used alone. The procedure is usually combined with regional chemotherapy. In this version, it is called chemoembolization. For liver cancer, one of the two methods is most often used:
- Chemoembolization with chemotherapeutic-in-oil – temporary occlusion of the vessel with lipiodol emulsion containing chemotherapeutic agents
- Drug-loaded microspheres – permanent occlusion of the vessel with tiny spheres containing chemotherapeutic agents
In Europe, microspheres are used more often. The treatment with them is more effective, as the drugs take longer to be released. This treatment option is also safer.
Some clinics in Germany use an innovative treatment called radioembolization. Instead of drugs, microspheres are loaded with radioactive substances.
Even more options abroad
In advanced 4 liver cancer, systemic treatment comes to the fore. Doctors use systemic chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment for liver cancer. Radiation therapy is used for local control of the tumor and metastases.
In Germany, proton therapy is used in addition to standard radiation therapy. It allows the necessary dose of radiation to be delivered to the liver more safely, with less damage to the tissue surrounding the tumor. The risk of complications is minimal.
You can undergo treatment and diagnostics of liver cancer in any developed country you like. Use the Booking Health service to compare prices for medical services in different clinics abroad and book a program at the best price.