Hyderabad: Chemoembolisation is a treatment where chemotherapy and embolic agents are used to treating liver and skin cancer before surgery is needed.
Since liver and skin cancer patients do not respond well to only chemotherapy, this new method of treatment is proving effective. Oncologists state that while chemotherapy is the first line of treatment for any cancer, it does not produce the desired result in cases where there are very large tumours.
Dr Shanker Mahadevan, senior oncologist with MNJ Cancer Hospital, said chemotherapy works when the tumours are small. “In the case of large tumours, surgery is the best option and we follow it up with radiation or targeted therapy. It depends on which organ the tumour is close to and the medication procedure is decided accordingly.”
Experts state that there are many options available and there is no need to restrict the treatment to the earlier line of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. “Some liver cancers are found to be resistant to chemotherapy. While there is no data to show why this is so, we often find that chemotherapy alone has not worked for liver and skin cancer,” said Dr Tejinder Singh, consultant medical oncologist.
For this reason, synthetic agents are placed into the blood vessels that feed cancerous tumours, to starve the tumour. This chemoembolization is used in combination with surgery. After this when there is recurrence of tumours, experts state that they can opt for targeted therapy, which is reportedly showing good results across all centres.
A senior oncologist on condition of anonymity said, “Targeted therapy is a good method but the cost of drugs is high. Also, when the cells can be killed via radiation and chemotherapy, the targeted method is often postponed or restricted to stubborn tumours.”
What causes liver cancer?
Liver cancer is caused by damage to the liver due to birth defects, alcohol abuse, chronic infection with diseases like Hepatitis B and C and liver cirrhosis.
- In India, there are 3 to 5 cases of liver cancer per 1 lakh population, which indicates that there are 30,000 to 50,000 new cases every year.
- As many as 9,48,858 cases were recorded by the International Journal of Science and Research in 2015.
- The male to female ratio of liver cancer is 4:1
- Hepatitis B is the most common cause of liver cancer according to the data collected from 4 national registries in the country.