Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to slow or stop the growth of rapidly dividing cancerous cells in your body.

Testing for Treatments

The Extreme Drug Resistance (EDR) Assay, also known as chemoresistance or the chemotherapy drug resistance test, allows doctors to test the likely effectiveness of a particular drug in your body. Using this test helps minimize your exposure to toxins and side effects, as well as reduce unnecessary costs.

Chemotherapy has not been found to be an effective treatment for adult liver cancer — it is more successful at fighting childhood liver cancer. However, doctors are continually working on new chemotherapy treatments that may be more beneficial. If you receive chemotherapy as part of your treatment plan, it may be part of a clinical trial.

You typically receive chemotherapy treatments as an outpatient at a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office. Hospital stays may be required depending on the type of drugs you receive and your general health.

Learn about:

  • Systemic chemotherapy
  • Regional chemotherapy
  • Systemic chemotherapy

    Systemic therapy, sometimes called intravenous or IV chemotherapy, means that the anti-cancer drugs reach nearly every part of your body. To receive systemic chemotherapy, your doctor injects the drugs — most commonly doxorubicin (Adriamycin), 5-fluorouracil, or cisplatin — through a needle into a vein.

    You may receive one drug or a combination. Generally, using more than one is more effective than using one alone. However, regardless of whether one or multiple drugs are used, liver cancer does not usually respond well to systemic chemotherapy. While it may reduce the size of the tumors, the effects are usually not long-lasting.

    Regional chemotherapy

    Regional chemotherapy targets the cancer-fighting drugs at the site of the tumor. Typically, your doctor injects the drugs directly into the liver through the hepatic artery. Because regional chemotherapy targets the site of the tumor, it may be more effective than systemic therapy and decrease the number of side effects you may experience since the chemotherapy is not reaching your entire body.

    Hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) is a regional chemotherapy treatment. During this procedure, your doctor inserts a tube called a catheter into the hepatic artery, the major artery that supplies blood to the liver, and injects the drug into the catheter. The drug flows into the blood vessels that feed into the tumor. Because only a small amount of the drug reaches other parts of the body, the drug mainly affects the cells of the liver. Drugs that have been found to be most effective in HAI are floxuridine (FUDR), cisplatin, mitomycin C, and doxorubicin.

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