Metastatic liver cancer spreads to the liver from elsewhere in the body.
Most commonly, this cancer originates in the breasts, lungs, pancreas, stomach or large intestines. Leukemia and lymphoma cancers may involve the liver.
Most cancers spread to the liver because the liver filters a large amount of blood from the rest of your body.
When the cancer cells break away from the primary cancer, they often enter and travel through your bloodstream.
Symptoms of metastatic liver cancer:
- Weight loss, poor appetite and occasionally fever are the first symptoms observed in metastatic liver cancer.
- The liver is inflamed and hard and feels tender and lumpy to the touch.
- The spleen becomes inflamed, particularly if the cancer originates in the pancreas.
- If the cancer blocks bile ducts, jaundice may result and worsen prior to death.
- The abdominal cavity becomes swollen and filled with fluid.
- You will feel drowsy and confused, from the accumulation of toxins in the brain, which the damaged liver is unable to remove.
Treatment for metastatic liver cancer:
Treatment mainly depends on the extent to which the cancer has spread and what the primary cancer is. Treatment options include:
Chemotherapy: This therapy uses the drugs that are used to temporarily reduce the tumor and prolong your life. These drugs cannot cure your cancer and are injected into the liver’s main artery, providing highly concentrated drugs to the cancer cells in liver.
Radiation therapy: It is used to reduce severe pain and it also has other benefits.
Surgery: If your doctor identifies a single or a few tumors in your liver, he will recommend surgery, particularly if they originate in the intestines.
Along with these treatment options, there are also various other methods used to treat metastatic liver cancer. They include:
- Surgical oncology
- Intra arterial chemotherapy
- 3D conformal radiation
- Fractionated Dose Chemotherapy
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
- External Beam Radiation
- Radiofrequency Ablation
Liver embolization for metastatic liver cancer:
Embolization of liver tumors is often recommended for treating cancerous tumors that are caused by colorectal metastases, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, hepatocellular carcinoma and metastases from other areas of the body.
There are two types of embolizations used with the liver. One is bland embolization, i.e. embolization without chemotherapy. This is used as a preface to liver transplant, liver resection and palliative treatment to metastatic liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma.
Second is chemoembolization, i.e. embolization in combination with chemotherapy drugs. In this method, doses are 20 to 200 times greater than the normal chemotherapeutic drugs. It has minimal side-effects because drugs are entrapped within the liver which won’t spread throughout the body.