Liver cancer radiation treatment involves the use of high-energy rays that are precisely targeted to destroy cancerous cells and shrink tumors. However, external beam radiation therapy, which is a common form of radiation treatment for other types of cancer, is not usually recommended for treating liver cancer. While this type of radiotherapy can be effective for shrinking liver tumors and alleviating the associated symptoms, the high dosages that are typically required can affect healthy liver tissue as well. Therefore, other treatments, such as radiofrequency liver tumor ablation or chemoembolization, are more often utilized.
For patients who require liver cancer radiation treatment, Moffitt Cancer Center offers access to the latest and most advanced equipment operated by highly skilled and experienced radiation oncologists, all of whom are members of our multispecialty tumor board. Before starting a patient’s treatment, these experts thoroughly evaluate and measure the patient to establish the precise targets and correct angles for radiation delivery, as well as determine the proper dosage and timing of treatments. While these essential preparation tasks require some time up front, each radiotherapy treatment typically lasts only a few minutes. In most cases, radiation treatments are given five days a week over the course of several weeks.
In addition to external beam radiation therapy, Moffitt offers the following types of liver cancer radiation treatment:
Brachytherapy – Sources of radiation are placed inside a patient’s body at or near an area that requires treatment; because the radiation travels only a short distance, damage to nearby healthy tissue is minimized.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) – High-energy beams are aimed at a tumor from several different angles.
Liver cancer radiation treatment is usually painless, and the multispecialty team at Moffitt includes supportive care professionals who have the expertise necessary to help patients manage any side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue and skin irritation at the point where the radiation enters the body. In most cases, these side effects resolve on their own after treatment is completed.