The incidence of liver and bile duct cancer has more than tripled since 1980, and about 41,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. While the incidence of the disease is rising, mortality is declining due to innovative new treatments and improved surgical techniques. The team at the Liver Cancer Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital is dedicated to diagnosing liver cancer early, when treatment is optimal, and to the continual discovery of new, more effective treatment options for our patients in Connecticut and beyond.
Our team includes an expert, committed group of specialists including hepatologists, hepatobiliary and transplant surgeons, diagnostic and interventional radiologists, pathologists, medical oncologists, and nurses. The team meets weekly to discuss each new patient’s diagnosis and to develop a personalized treatment plan. A patient’s health status, age, liver function, cancer stage and localization in the liver, and personal goals are all factors in determining an appropriate treatment plan for each of our patients.
A combination of interventional radiology and surgical techniques, including ablation therapy, liver resection, new chemotherapeutic options, and liver transplantation, are available to our patients. For some patients, these treatments can cure their disease. For patients diagnosed with early disease, liver transplantation can provide definitive cure for both the cancer and advanced liver disease that frequently accompanies a diagnosis of cancer.
For patients who do not have advanced liver disease or for those who cannot receive a liver transplant, surgical resection and ablative therapies such as transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can provide excellent survival rates. TACE delivers chemotherapy through a catheter directly to the liver tumor. RFA is a common treatment method for small tumors and uses a direct current to destroy tumors. NanoKnife therapy is a state-of-the-art minimally invasive cancer treatment that applies a high voltage of electrical pulses to induce precision targeted cancer death, while minimizing surrounding tissue damage in the liver.
After treatment, our onco-hepatologist team provides continued care to manage the underlying liver disease, preserve liver function, and monitor for possible recurrence of cancer and re-treat, if necessary.
For patients with advanced disease, clinical trials, which employ novel ablation treatments, new targeted agents, and innovative combinations of treatments to target specific intracellular mechanisms of the liver cancer, are also available.