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Cancer Care



What to Know About Radiation for Liver Cancer

What to Know About Radiation Therapy for Liver Cancer

Radiation is sometimes used to help relieve the pain and discomfort of liver cancer by shrinking the tumor. One of the limitations of radiation therapy in liver cancer is that normal liver tissue cannot tolerate the doses required to treat the cancer. Newer techniques, such as 3-D conformal radiation and stereotactic body radiation therapy, which provide less radiation exposure to normal tissue, are often used rather than standard radiation therapy. Unfortunately, radiation therapy has not been shown to help improve survival of liver cancer patients.

Potential side effects from radiation therapy

These are some of the most common side effects of radiation for liver cancer:

  • Diarrhea

  • Tiredness and fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Dry or irritated skin

These side effects often go away when treatment ends. Medication can help many of the side effects. Getting radiation at the same time can worsen the side effects of chemotherapy.

The liver is very sensitive to radiation. If your whole liver is treated, you may develop radiation hepatitis. This liver injury is caused by radiation to normal parts of the liver and limits the use of radiation therapy in this cancer. 

 
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