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Liver Cancer Treatment

At Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, you can expect compassionate care and advanced treatment options using the latest technologies and therapies. The Cancer Institute offers one of the top liver transplant programs in the country for advanced liver cancer as well as access to the latest clinical trials.

Treatment options include surgery for even the most advanced cases of liver cancer, interventional radiology, groundbreaking stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), and a comprehensive liver transplant program.

Liver cancer treatment at AHN

We offer one of the most robust liver cancer treatment programs in the region. Our skilled team treats liver cancer that has originated in the liver, as well as cancer that has spread to the liver from another part of the body. We meet regularly to discuss your treatment plan and make recommendations for the next steps in your care.  

You can expect treatment that is:

  • Personalized: Our team works together to create a treatment plan specifically targeted to your needs.
  • Patient-centric: Our specialists help coordinate appointments, answers questions about symptoms and treatment options, and provides logistical support when it comes to travel and planning. We help lift the burden of logistics so you can focus on getting better. We also offer psychiatrists and social workers for transplant patients, to keep your mind and body feeling its best. And our support services, like palliative care and support groups, provide care for the whole person.
  • Collaborative: Your treatment team will work together every step of the way to identify the exact right treatment for you, whether it’s surgery, medical oncology, or radiation therapy. The high level of collaboration leads to better results for patients. 
  • Pioneering: We operate one of the most robust liver transplant programs in the country. We also offer groundbreaking therapies like SBRT and access to clinical trials, as well as liver surgery and resections, so you have access to the latest treatments and the best chances of getting well.

Treatment options for liver cancer

Your treatment plan depends on the liver cancer’s stage and the location of the tumors. We work as a team to determine the right plan for you, ranging from surgery and radiation therapy to a liver transplant. 

We also participate in a large number of clinical trials. You have access to the latest therapies and approaches to treat the cancer.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy

We are one of the few treatment centers nationwide to offer SBRT, which shrinks tumors quickly and effectively. We deliver this powerful, noninvasive radiation treatment in just three to five days. Benefits include:

  • Minimal disruption to your life: It’s an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia. 
  • Fewer side effects: We deliver radiation directly to the tumor, so there’s less damage to the healthy tissue.

Surgery

Sometimes it’s possible to remove the tumor using surgery. We may remove a small segment of the liver, the entire lobe (one side), or more. Often, we use radiation therapy and chemotherapy to shrink the tumors before surgery, making the procedure easier. 

We use laparoscopy and robotic surgery whenever possible. This minimally invasive approach uses small incisions, resulting in a shorter recovery time.

Liver transplant

During a transplant, we replace a diseased liver with a healthy donor liver. We closely evaluate each patient to determine if a liver transplant is an option. We operate one of the most robust liver transplant facilities in the area, with a full team ready to support you every step of the way. We offer:

  • Partnership with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS): We have access to a vast array of potential donors, so you will get a transplant more quickly.
  • Expertise in treating end-stage liver cancer: We perform more procedures on end-stage liver cancer patients than other program in the area. Even if the disease has progressed, we can treat it aggressively.
  • Compassionate care: The idea of needing an organ transplant can be overwhelming. We work closely with a team of psychiatrists and social workers to ensure that you’re prepared for your new liver, physically and mentally.

MR-Linac

Radiation treatments are already delivered with pinpoint accuracy, but the new MR-Linac* takes precision to the next level. We are the only cancer center in the region and one of only six in the United States that will be testing this new innovative technology. The MR-Linac combines a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine with the radiation delivery machine – known as a linear accelerator – into one treatment device. The MRI provides high-quality images of a tumor in real-time, and then the linear accelerator emits radiation beams to the exact location of the cancer.

Inhaling and exhaling causes organs, tissues, and the actual tumor to move. This technology – which will be in research phase in 2020 at the AHN Cancer Institute Academic Center – allows us to see images of a patient’s body as breaths are taken, so we can directly target the tumor with radiation. If a tumor moves out of the determined radiation area as a patient inhales the radiation automatically turns off. When the patient exhales and the tumor returns to its original position the high-energy beams resume.

This type of delivery limits healthy tissue and organs from being radiated while providing a powerful dose of radiation to the cancer.

*Elekta Unity is pending 510(k) premarket clearance and not available for commercial distribution or sale in the U.S.

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