Thanks to liver cancer research, significant progress has occurred in liver cancer treatment. Presently, while there are not many ways of effectively treating or preventing liver cancer, scientists and doctors are continuously working on identifying the causes and developing ways to treat liver cancer.
A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet and limited intake of alcohol can lower the risk of getting liver cancer. It is also essential to avoid the hepatitis infection as it can lead to liver cancer. Researchers are continuously working to develop useful vaccines to treat the hepatitis infection before it causes liver cancer.
Researchers are trying to find ways and means to detect liver cancer before opting for AFP and ultrasound. The DKK1 protein, which can lead to a liver cancer blood test, is a promising outcome from such researches.
Adjuvant and Neoadjuvant Therapy
A significant section on liver cancer research deals with adjuvant therapies to reduce the chances of cancer recurring. Most of the current studies revolve around chemotherapy or chemoembolization, which may not provide much relief to patients with liver cancer. However, some promising research results include radioembolization and antiviral therapy, which is used to treat viral infections such as hepatitis.
Doctors are also working on ways to shrink the liver cancer before surgery with neoadjuvant therapies including targeted surgery, ablation, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and embolization.
Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to examine or remove a part of the liver. Since it involves tiny incisions, there is less blood loss, less pain, and quick healing.
Currently, laparoscopic surgery is still an experimental endeavor for doctors working on liver cancer and is being studied in patients with small tumors in certain parts of the liver.
Cancer recurrence post-surgery
Post a partial hepatectomy, or liver resection, one primary concern is the recurrence of cancer. Knowing the chances of recurrence helps the doctor understand how to follow-up with the patient. Researchers are finding ways to predict the chances of cancer coming back by testing the liver cells from the surgery through genetic profiling.
There are very few patients with liver cancer who can undergo a liver transplant because of the strict criteria based on the size and the number of tumors. Doctors and scientists are vigorously trying to expand the criteria range for patients who are eligible for a liver transplant when diagnosed with liver cancer.
Thus, rapid growth can be seen in liver cancer research with the invention of newer and superior methods to fight the disease. With a better prognosis and treatment, there can be a significant rise in the number of liver cancer survivors.