Treat Liver Cancer with Proton Therapy
Treat Liver Cancer with Proton Therapy
California Protons’ intensity-modulated pencil beam scanning technology is a highly precise form of cancer radiation treatment that enables our doctors to selectively target liver tumors with high-dose radiation within this area.
Compared with older passive-scattering proton therapy treatment, our pencil beam scanning technology precisely delivers radiation treatment for liver cancer within 2 millimeters and with the utmost care. We can attack tumors layer by layer and minimize harmful exposure to surrounding healthy tissue and organs. This is important for liver cancer patients because the liver is the central filtration point for all of the blood that circulates through the body. Often, liver cancer patients have additional underlying liver disease such as cirrhosis and hepatitis, so minimizing radiation to healthy liver tissue and surrounding organs is crucial. The reduction of radiation-related toxicity also increases the likelihood that patients can complete treatment with fewer interruptions or delays.
Working with a multidisciplinary team at UCSD, California Protons offers proton beam radiotherapy to primary liver tumors including hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma (a cancer that forms in the bile ducts). A randomized controlled clinical trial has shown that proton beam is safe and effective with the potential for less toxicity and increased local control compared to transarterial chemoembolization.
What We Treat
- Primary liver cancer
- Liver metastases or cancerous tumors that originated elsewhere—such as your colon, breast, pancreas, skin and lungs—and has spread to the liver
- Recurrent cancer
What We Do
- Target the tumor only
- Protect your stomach, kidneys, small intestine and normal liver
- Maintain your quality of life during treatment
- Reduce side effects of treatment, including nausea, vomiting and fatigue
- Lower the risk of secondary cancer due to radiation
Benefits of Proton Therapy for Liver Cancer Treatment
- Our pencil beam scanning technology precisely controls protons to place the Bragg peak—the point at which they deposit their maximum energy—directly in the tumor. This allows us to treat more complex tumor shapes and vary the dose within the tumor.
- Advanced proton therapy allows doctors to more selectively deliver high-dose radiation to cancerous tumors of the liver, and reduce the dose to surrounding healthy tissues and critical organs. In some cases, this has been shown to deliver higher cure rates than X-ray radiation treatment even in some of the most challenging situations.
- Doctors can selectively place high-dose radiation on your tumor, while simultaneously reducing the dose to your surrounding critical organs, namely your stomach, kidneys and small intestine. Sparing these healthy tissues is extremely important as damage to these sensitive structures can have significant side effects and may lead to secondary cancers.
- Specialized techniques can be used with proton therapy to target a moving tumor with great technical precision. This is important for liver cancer patients because every time you breathe, your liver moves.
- Unlike with older technology, the treatment plan can be loaded into the computer and completed within a matter of minutes. Treatments are also noninvasive and convenient so patients can get back to their daily activities quicker.
Proton Therapy for Liver Cancer
Right for You?
Depending on the stage of liver cancer, combined treatments of resection surgery, ablation, embolization, chemotherapy and radiation may be needed for some liver tumors. While the only known curative treatments are surgical resection or liver transplant, proton therapy for liver cancer can provide effective local tumor control while being a much safer treatment option than other treatments. Treatment options are also affected by the type of liver cancer, age, overall health, personal preferences and whether or not the patient has underlying liver disease such as cirrhosis and hepatitis.
At stage I liver cancer, there is a single tumor in the liver. The rest of the liver is healthy and nearby blood vessels are not affected. While removing the diseased part of the liver through resection surgery or liver transplant are the most common treatment approaches, radiation therapy for stage I liver cancer is often recommended to reduce the risk of cancer growing or spreading.
At stage II liver cancer, there are several tumors smaller than 2 inches across or a tumor has grown into the blood vessels. While removing the diseased part of the liver through resection surgery is the most common treatment, radiation therapy may be recommended before or after surgery to shrink a tumor or help reduce the risk of cancer returning. Patients may also become a candidate for a liver transplant.
At stage III liver cancer, at least one tumor is larger than 2 inches across or the tumors have grown into a major vein or the outer covering of another organ. It has not spread into lymph nodes or distant sites. While removing the diseased part of the liver through resection surgery is the most common treatment, radiation therapy may be recommended before or after surgery to shrink a tumor or help reduce the risk of cancer returning. If a patient is eligible for organ donation, a complete liver transplant may also be recommended.
At stage IV liver cancer, tumors have spread into the lymph nodes or distant organs. For stage IV liver cancer patients, drug therapy such as chemotherapy are the main treatments recommended. Proton radiation treatment may be used to shrink tumors or control pain.
Recurrent Liver Cancer
Proton therapy is often the best way to treat recurrent tumors in areas that have previously been treated with radiation therapy.
Treating previously irradiated areas can be challenging. The healthy tissues around the recurrent tumor do not fully “forget” the previous radiation dose, and any added dose continues to increase the risk of normal tissue injury. Proton beam therapy may enable doctors to better concentrate the dose to the target and limit it elsewhere, allowing re-treatment with radiation in select patients.
Liver Cancer Proton Therapy Treatment Outcomes & Long-Term Effects
Proton therapy treatment at California Protons Cancer Therapy Center in San Diego may offer similar outcomes to standard X-ray radiation, while reducing long-term and potentially life-threatening side effects due to radiation damage to the stomach, kidneys and small intestine. It may also lower chances for secondary cancers later in life due to the reduced radiation exposure to your surrounding healthy tissues and organs.
However, all cancer treatments have advantages and disadvantages. Be sure to discuss all of the potential risks, as well as treatment options, with your oncologist.