Treatment of cancerous liver tumors depends on staging. Staging considers the size and location of the tumor (or tumors), how easily it can be removed by surgery, and whether it’s spread to nearby or distant organs. We also look at a child’s age and overall heath to help us develop a treatment plan that might include these options, together or on their own:
Chemotherapy (“chemo”). This is the term for medications used to kill cancer cells and stop their growth.
Surgery. Pediatric liver tumors need to be removed to be cured. The liver is a unique organ in the body. Even if surgeons take out a large portion of the liver, the remaining part can regenerate (regrow). The liver is the only organ that can grow back like this.
Liver transplant. This is a surgical procedure that removes the entire liver and requires replacement with another liver from either a living related donor or from a deceased organ donor. A child may need a liver transplant if the tumor can’t be removed due to its size or location without leaving enough of the liver behind to function.
Over the past 30 years, children with liver cancer have had excellent cure rates thanks to liver transplants. In fact, most kids who have liver transplants go on to live active, healthy lives. However, following a liver transplant they will need to take medicine to help prevent problems, and get regular checkups to make sure the liver is working correctly. Doctors and researchers are looking for ways to decrease the number of children who need a liver transplant.
Advanced interventional radiology (IR) procedures performed by our interventional radiologist (a doctor who specializes in image-guided therapy). Techniques are minimally invasive, which means we use tiny incisions. And that means shorter recovery times and less pain for kids. Our IR procedures include:
- transarterial radioembolization with yttrium-90 (or Y90), which delivers a high dose of radiation therapy directly into the tumor(s)
- transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), which delivers chemotherapy medication directly to the tumor
- bland embolization, which uses small particles to shut off the blood supply of the tumor
- tumor ablation, which kills tumors using small needles to heat or cool them