How Is Liver Cancer Treated?

Advanced Teamwork and the Latest Technology


Chemotherapy uses medicines to destroy cancer cells. You may receive it through your veins or take it by mouth. 

A New Generation of Chemotherapy

Our doctors have also helped develop new chemotherapy drugs, based on clinical studies. These drugs treat specific cells or the way cells grow. They include:

  • Targeted therapies that kill cancer cells without affecting healthy cells
  • Drugs that prevent the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors

These can be used with regular chemotherapy and surgery, when needed.


In some cases, your doctor may recommend a liver transplant. The liver transplant program at The University of Kansas Hospital is one of the regional leaders. We have done more than 1,100 liver transplants since the program began in 1990. 


Radiation therapy uses high-dose X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It can be internal or external. You may receive radiation, like an X-ray, from outside the body. Or, the doctor may place radioactive material inside your body, near the cancer site. External-beam radiation is not always useful in liver cancer because liver cells are very sensitive to radiation. Radiation therapy is used to relieve pain by shrinking the tumor. 

Interventional Radiology

In this area, we can use several advanced techniques, such as:

  • Embolization: Cut off the blood supply to the tumor. 
  • Radio frequency ablation: Destroys tumor tissue with heat. 
  • Chemoembolization: Injects anti-cancer drugs directly into the blood vessel feeding a cancerous tumor.
  • Microwave ablation: Injects microwave energy, similar to your microwave at home, through a fine needle to destroy cancer cells.
  • Calypso® 4D Localization System™: Uses leading-edge technology to track the movement of targeted tissue for more accurate delivery of energy.
  • Radioembolization: Uses radioactive TheraSpheres, glass beads, to treat primary liver cancer and SIR-Spheres use beads of biocompatible resin to treat metastatic liver cancer. Radioembolization is usually combined with chemotherapy.

Clinical Trials

Sometimes people with liver cancer take part in clinical trials. Clinical trials are research projects to test medicines and treatments.