Primary liver cancer accounts for 7% of all cancers with approximately 850,000 new cases each year worldwide. Primary liver cancer, discussed in this page, should not be confused with cancer metastases to the liver from other types of cancer. In the United States, liver cancer has an incidence of approximately 35,000 cases per year. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for 90% of primary liver cancers with other cancers such as intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, fibrolamellar HCC, mixed HCC and epithelioid hemagiothelioma accounting for the remaining 10% of primary liver cancers.
Specific to HCC, it more commonly affects men, increases with age, and usually peaks in people 65 to 70 years old. The biggest risk factors for HCC are chronic infection with Hepatitis B virus or Hepatitis C virus that result in chronic inflammation, scarring, and ultimately cirrhosis (end stage liver disease). Also contributing to HCC are alcohol abuse, metabolic syndrome, and a condition known as hemochromatosis.
Surgical resection is the first-line treatment option for non-cirrhotic patients when detected in its early-stage with a single tumor. In cirrhotic patients, radiofrequency ablation or resection would be appropriate if tumors are less than 2 cm in diameter. Liver transplantation may also be suitable for certain patients.
Hyperthermia has been shown in multiple studies to be effective when used with a variety of treatment modalities including radiation therapy, chemoembolization, immune therapies, and traditional chemotherapy.
The application of hyperthermia to a tumor can have numerous positive effects on cancer cells. Heat disrupts cell membranes and increases blood flow to the tumor, making the tumor more sensitive and vulnerable both to your body’s natural immune defenses and to other cancer therapies.
Research demonstrates that hyperthermia when combined with radiation therapy, increases the likelihood of a complete response in liver cancers by nearly 50%.
Hyperthermia can be added to liver cancer treatment plan at any time. Optimally, hyperthermia treatment is initiated as soon as the patient begins receiving radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Improving your therapeutic regimen leads to the best outcome.
For all patients, the goal is to choose the right therapy or combination of therapies that lead to the best outcome while minimizing side effects. Hyperthermia often has no or minimal side effects and has no known adverse effects on normal tissue. Adding hyperthermia can maximize the effectiveness of your therapeutic regimen without risking sensitive surrounding organs.