28 Nov 2012
Considered untreatable until a few years ago, there are treatment options available now, surgery being a critical one.
"Through surgery, either the cancerous part of the liver is removed if the remaining part of the liver is healthy. However, the remaining liver is usually unhealthy or cirrhotic in most cases and the entire liver is removed and a transplantation done," Dr Rajekar said. He further said that blocking blood supply to the tumour and administering chemotherapy directly to the tumour is useful in prolonging life and palliating many patients from inoperable liver cancer. "Radiofrequency ablation is another new modality that is available for patients with liver cancer who cannot undergo surgery," Rajekar said.
The city’s first liver transplant was performed at Ruby Hall last month. The hospital has also also established its own Centre for Liver and Pancreatic Diseases.
Liver physician and gastroenterologist Dr Nitin Pai said early and accurate diagnosis was important in the treatment of liver cancer. "There are treatments available for viral hepatitis and liver tumours," Dr Pai said, adding that in the case of end-stage liver disease liver transplantation is suggested.
Radiologist Yadav Munde said, "For liver cancer patients, who are declared inoperable due to large multiple tumours, selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), where the radio-active substance directly reaches the tumour through the artery supplying blood to the liver, may be extremely useful." However, the high cost of treatment is a big deterrent, especially in developing countries. One dose of the therapy can cost Rs 6–9 lakh, he added.
However, there is both lack of awareness about these treatment options and poor access too to advanced healthcare. "Many doctors, especially general practitioners are unaware that liver cancer can be treated. Until 10-15 years ago liver cancer was deemed untreatable and liver surgery had a high mortality. However with improving healthcare and recent advances in surgery and medicine, liver surgeries are now being performed. Sadly, many doctors aren’t updated with recent advances in medical sciences and many cancers remain untreated," Rajekar said.