Did you know that liver cancer is on the rise in the United States? In 2023, an estimated 41,210 adults will be diagnosed with primary liver cancer, but non-surgical treatments are proving to be effective options. Since 1980, the incidence of liver cancer has more than tripled, which is a concerning statistic.
But, the good news is that there is hope. With advances in medical treatment, non-surgical methods are becoming more effective in fighting liver cancer. It’s important to stay informed and know your options if you or a loved one is diagnosed with this disease. Trust in the medical community and the power of modern treatment options to help you fight against liver cancer.
IR procedures are nonsurgical, outpatient, same-day procedures that can often be performed in under an hour. They are also called percutaneous procedures or needle entry procedures. These recently developed techniques allow access to areas that would otherwise require a more invasive procedure, such as traditional surgery, which requires general anesthesia, a stay in the hospital, and a long recovery period.
While it’s normal to experience mild discomfort during and post-treatment, most patients report a positive experience without any major pain.
All procedures can be done on-site at the medical clinic. No general anesthesia or hospital stay is required.
Interventional radiology procedures typically involve shorter recovery periods and faster return to daily activities than traditional open surgeries.
Interventional radiology has a high success rate in diagnosing and treating a variety of medical conditions using non-surgical techniques.
Compared to traditional surgical procedures, interventional radiology has fewer side effects, such as reduced pain and scarring, shorter recovery times, and lower risks of complications.
Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth, invasion, and sometimes metastasis of cells. It differentiates from benign tumors by its malignant properties. Angiogenesis, the stimulation of new blood vessel growth, is also a characteristic of cancer.
The most common types of cancer include prostate, breast, lung and bronchus, colon and rectum, bladder, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), pancreas, melanoma of the skin, and kidney and ureter. Childhood cancers account for about 1% of all cancers.
The liver is a vital organ with various functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals for digestion. It performs about 500 separate functions and plays a crucial role in removing toxins from the body. The liver also produces insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) that stimulates cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis.
Liver cancer, typically referred to as a primary cancer, is characterized by uncontrolled cell division in the liver. It primarily arises from hepatocytes, which are liver cells. About 90% of all cancers originate from epithelial cells or mesenchymal cells.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common form of primary liver cancer that starts with a tumor in a single liver cell. Carcinomas typically begin as tumors or growths resulting from damaged cells.
Risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma include age (greater than 45 years), male sex, hepatitis B or C infection, alcoholic liver disease-related cirrhosis, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, and various other conditions like drug toxicity, anorexia nervosa, hemochromatosis, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, Wilson disease, or obesity.
Cholangiocarcinoma is a cancer that affects the bile ducts. It often begins in the cells lining the inside of the bile ducts and may be associated with chronic inflammation. The bile ducts form a biliary tree, where bile flows and undergoes changes before being eliminated from the body as waste.
Liver angiosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that originates from the blood vessels within the liver. Learn more about its characteristics and effects.
Cancerous changes result from mutations – permanent changes in the DNA of a cell. DNA carries a person’s entire genetic information and determines a cell’s characteristics, including whether it becomes a liver cancer cell or a healthy liver cell.
Mutations can be inherited from parents, occur during a person’s lifetime due to exposure to harmful substances such as tobacco smoke or ultraviolet rays from sunshine, or result from errors that happen when cells divide in mitosis or meiosis.
Cirrhosis causes hepatocellular cancer by leading to repeated cycles of liver cell damage and regeneration, which may occasionally introduce mutations that initiate tumor growth. Loss of cells in cirrhosis means there is less liver tissue available to perform vital functions.
The most common early symptom is painless swelling of the abdomen. Other signs may include yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), easy bruising bleeding, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight, fever, and chills.
Liver cancers can be difficult to detect early because there may not be any symptoms for a long time. However, people with risk factors such as cirrhosis or chronic viral hepatitis should get regular blood tests to look for evidence of liver damage. Imaging tests such as ultrasound scans, liver function tests, and biopsies may also be used to diagnose liver cancer.
Secondary (metastatic) liver cancer is when the disease spreads to the liver from another location in the body. The original cancer can spread through blood or lymph vessels, by direct extension of the original tumor, or metastasizing outside the circulatory system. Common primary cancer sites that may spread to the liver include lung, breast, colon, rectum, stomach, esophagus, and others.
Risk factors for secondary liver cancer include primary lung cancer, breast cancer, colon and rectal cancers, stomach and esophageal cancers, and others that may spread to bones and/or other organs before reaching the liver.
Liver metastases are particularly common in patients with lung cancer, but may also occur with cancers of the breast, colon, and rectum. The prevalence of secondary liver metastases is estimated at 30-40 percent of patients with metastatic lung cancer.
A diagnosis of liver cancer is usually made through tests such as biopsies to determine whether there are any abnormal cells in the liver. Medical history, physical examination, and various imaging tests (ultrasound, CT scans, MRI, PET scans, and angiograms) may also be used to aid in the diagnosis.
An MRI with contrast material is performed using LI-RADS criteria. Sometimes, contrast material is injected into the veins to make liver tumors easier to see on an MRI.
LI-RADS (Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System) provides guidelines for reporting abnormal findings on liver MRIs, ensuring uniform interpretation by radiologists.
A LI-RADS 5 lesion on MRI indicates hepatocellular cancer, while less than a score 5 may require a biopsy.
Treatment for liver cancer depends on various factors such as the type of cell involved, the extent of spread, the grade or degree of malignancy, size of the tumor, and presence of symptoms.
Treatment options may include surgery (in cases where the tumor can be resected), chemotherapy or immunotherapy (administered by a medical oncologist), advanced targeted treatments (provided by an interventional radiologist using miniaturized equipment to treat tumors directly), and radiotherapy (sometimes recommended by a radiation oncologist).
A multidisciplinary team approach involving surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, and pathologists is often recommended.
At Imaging and Interventional Specialists, we offer advanced liver cancer treatments utilizing state-of-the-art techniques designed to have maximum impact on liver cancers.
These advanced methods may include non-surgical procedures such as ablation therapy, transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), and radiofrequency ablation (RFA), among others.
The choice of treatment depends on the specific characteristics of the cancer and the patient’s overall health.
The Imaging & Interventional Specialists team, consisting of nationally recognized liver cancer treatment experts, assesses each patient’s condition through a thorough history, physical examination, imaging, and lab results.
We collaborate with other members of the treatment team to develop an integrated, long-term treatment plan.
At Imaging & Interventional Specialists, we offer “pinhole” procedures to address and cure pelvic congestion syndrome.
These procedures include transarterial embolization, transarterial chemoembolization, transarterial radioembolization, and thermal ablation.
These methods are often performed sequentially over time to provide comprehensive and long-term treatment.
Imaging & Interventional Specialists, we are leaders in interventional radiology and experts in non-surgical advanced liver treatments.
Our experienced board-certified specialists utilize world-class equipment and focus on providing the best outcomes for patients.
Our procedures offer fast recovery, less risk, and less pain in a comfortable outpatient setting with friendly staff.