How is Liver Cancer treated?

Every patient at Miami Cancer Institute receives a personalized treatment plan put together by our team of medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, interventional oncologists and interventional gastroenterologists. With this system in place, your care team can tackle liver cancer.

Our philosophy is to find the plan that not only treats the cancer, but also fits you as a patient. Your care team will consider your diagnosis and type of tumor, the stage of disease, size and location of the tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of your body. We also work closely with physical therapists, nurses, nutritionists and psychosocial experts to ensure we address any potential side effects of treatment.

Whether liver cancer is your primary diagnosis, or you have another type of cancer that has spread to the liver, the team at Miami Cancer Institute has advanced treatment options for you.

Our liver cancer specialists participate in regular Liver Tumor Boards, where a multidisciplinary team of clinicians collaborate on each patient’s diagnosis and treatment. This practice means you receive a second or third opinion about your treatment options without having to go to another doctor or facility.  Following are treatment options available at Miami Cancer Center: 

Surgery

Although surgery is often the first line of treatment for liver cancer, it is sometimes difficult to perform because of important blood vessels located near the liver. However, this can be an effective treatment for early-stage liver disease.

Surgery experts at Miami Cancer Institute provide innovative and advanced techniques for treating liver cancer, including minimally invasive surgery. Our surgical teams are on the leading edge of treatment technology and are often creating improved surgical guidelines for their field.

Surgery options may include:

  • Partial hepatectomy – During this procedure, surgeons remove part of the liver and some tissue around the diseased part of the liver.
  • Liver transplant – During this procedure, surgeons remove the entire liver and replace it with a healthy, donor liver.

If you undergo surgery to treat your liver cancer, our specialists will work with you to provide a faster, less painful recovery process. Miami Cancer Institute is well-known for this enhanced recovery program, which aims to improve the patient experience before and after surgery.

Chemotherapy

This treatment uses medicine – or several medicines – to kill cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy

This treatment uses image-guided radiation to kill cancer cells. At Miami Cancer Institute, our advanced radiation oncology department gives patients access to all types of  radiation treatment. Radiation therapies may include:

  • Proton therapy – Miami Cancer Institute is proud to be the only center in the region to offer this unique treatment. Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy that uses external beams of protons to deliver high doses of radiation directly to the tumor while sparing surrounding tissue, known as pencil-beam scanning. In this treatment, protons are used instead of X-rays.
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) – SBRT delivers high doses of radiation using X-rays with pinpoint accuracy. These X-rays kill cancer cells. Miami Cancer Institute offers the most advanced technology to deliver SBRT including CyberKnife, TrueBeam, and MRIdian Linac.
  • MR-guided Radiation Therapy – Miami Cancer Institute was the second center in the United States to treat patients with the ViewRay MRIdian Linac, a type of machine that uses MRI scans to continuously track tumors during treatment. This allows for higher doses to be given to tumors to improve tumor control, while delivering a lower dose of radiation to normal tissues, decreasing side effects.

Interventional Oncology

Our interventional oncologists may also use minimally invasive techniques to treat and destroy the tumor. We are one of a few institutions in the world to offer the full spectrum of the latest interventional oncologic techniques. These techniques may include: 

  • Embolization – A thin tube is used to block the blood flow to a tumor, which causes the tumor to shrink. This procedure is also used during surgery to remove a tumor.
  • Radioembolization (Yttrium-90 radioembolization) – During this procedure, interventional oncologists work with radiation oncologists to deliver high doses of radiation directly to liver tumors. This process kills the tumor cells while sparing the surrounding healthy liver. Doctors insert a thin tube through an artery in the groin and guide it to the liver. Radioactive beads are injected through the catheter and into the tumor to cut off blood supply to the tumor. This procedure can also help target the tumor during radiation therapy. Miami Cancer Institute is one of only a few facilities nationwide that has used robotic systems for radioembolization in the treatment of liver cancer.
  • Cryoablation (also called cryotherapy or cryosurgery) – A needle is inserted near the tumor and gas is sent through the needle into the area around the tumor. The gas freezes the tumor and destroys cancer cells. This procedure can also help with tumor-related pain.
  • Irreversible electroporation (IRE) therapy – This procedure, also called the NanoKnife, uses a CT scan to help doctors place needles near the tumor. Once the doctors place the needles, electricity is sent through the needles to kill the tumor. The tumor shows immediate signs of shrinking, and patients typically spend only one night in the hospital. Miami Cancer Institute is one of only a few cancer centers offering this treatment, and our physicians have performed more than 700 NanoKinfe procedures to treat liver cancer or cancers that have spread to the liver. We are also pioneers in using this therapy to treat pancreatic cancer.
  • Radiofrequency ablation or microwave ablation – This procedure uses imaging technology and needle-like probes to deliver heat directly to the tumor. The probe uses radiofrequency or microwave energy to quickly and effectively destroy the cancer cells. 
  • Chemoembolization – Doctors use a thin tube to inject chemotherapy directly into a tumor and cut off blood supply to the tumor. This therapy has been shown to kill tumors, shrink tumors and improve survival in liver cancer patients. Miami Cancer Institute is one of only a few facilities nationwide to have used robotic systems for chemoembolization in the treatment of liver cancer.
Tumor Board

Tumor Board

A multidisciplinary team of cancer experts including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, genetic counselors, medical geneticists, social workers, patient navigators and clinical trials staff meet weekly to discuss select complex cases and determine the best course of care.

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials

Miami Cancer Institute can provide access to clinical trials not widely available elsewhere. Clinical trials find new ways to treat and diagnose cancer and are ongoing. If an appropriate trial is available, we will talk to you about the benefits and risks.

South Florida's First Proton Therapy Center

Proton therapy is a highly specialized treatment that directs proton particles toward tumors to destroy cancer cells while largely sparing healthy tissue and decreasing the risk of side effects. This sophisticated treatment is used only for certain types of cancers and in a limited number of individuals.

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