Chemotherapy for Liver Cancer

How Chemotherapy Is Administered

Chemotherapy drugs are generally administered in three ways:

  • By mouth in the form of a pill you swallow
  • By injection
  • Locally (directly to the tumor site)

Injection methods include:

  • Intra-arterial (IA): into an artery
  • Intramuscular (IM): into a muscle
  • Intravenous (IV): into a vein
  • Subcutaneous (SubQ): into the skin

Local/direct methods include:

  • Intracavitary: in the cavity (or space) where your tumor had been prior to surgery
  • Interstitial: into body tissue
  • Intraperitoneal: into your abdomen or peritoneal cavity (intestines, liver, stomach, ovaries)
  • Intrathecal: into the space between the meninges
  • Intratumoral: into the tumor
  • Intraventicular: into a ventricle
  • Convection-enhanced delivery: into your tumor using gravity or controlled flow

Note: This web content focuses on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of primary liver cancer.

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where high-powered medications are used to kill cancer cells. It’s a systemic approach to cancer treatment, where drugs are delivered through your bloodstream, targeting cancer cells throughout your body.

My hope is that we will find a cure for cancer. And short of that, my next hope is a treatment that will extend life and maintain quality of life so that the patient can achieve whatever their hopes and wishes and desires may be.

Lucas Wong, MD, Medical Oncology

Scott & White’s Approach

Scott & White’s mission to provide personalized, comprehensive care is the foundation for our chemotherapy program. Our approach at Scott & White is in individualizing therapy.

Our medical oncologists take meticulous care to determine which chemotherapy drug or drugs are best for you. Several factors impact their decision, including the type, location and stage of your specific tumor and your overall medical condition.

How Chemotherapy Is Used to Treat Cancer

Chemotherapy is infrequently used to treat HCC. However, in some cases your Integrated Care Team may recommend chemotherapy in addition to or instead of other treatments for your HCC.

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where drugs are injected, given orally or through an IV, to keep your cancer from spreading. Often chemotherapy drugs are used in combination to attack cancer cells. It’s usually given in cycles over several months.

While there is one chemotherapy drug recently approved for use with HCC, there are several drugs currently being studied to determine their effectiveness for HCC.

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Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Each chemotherapy drug is different and each person’s reaction to it can vary. At Scott & White, your medical oncologist will see you through treatment and help you manage any side effects.

Here are some common side effects of chemotherapy drugs for cancer of the liver:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Lowered resistance to infection

For more information about possible side effects, please talk to your medical oncologist.


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