Alternative Liver Cancer Treatments

- Updated December 6, 2017

In the case of alternative liver cancer treatments, one of three meanings may apply.  The first definition refers to the various treatments that have evolved within the traditional medical community for cancers of differing types and of different stages.  The second definition is applicable to holistic non-traditional treatments that have not been tested by the vetting process of the medical literature and have not withstood the critical eyes of the traditional medical community.

Holistic Medicine and Liver Cancer

Let’s talk about the second definition first.  As a traditional doctor, I must voice my concerns over liver cancer treatments that are anecdotal and untested by the community of which I am a part. When a patient starts going outside the traditional medical establishment and trying out holistic medical remedies, he or she loses the critical thinking about a disease process that is continually tested against what has been learned about liver cancer in the past.  While many different meds have come from the world around us and at one time or another were not standard, it is generally best to stay with what is tried and true.  And holistic alternative cancer treatments are not held to the high standards of validation that are true within the medical community.

Standards of care and evolving practice in liver cancer treatment

On the other hand, I also have a personal bias against holding too tightly to any “standard of practice” which may be “standard” but also may not be effective.  When a standard of care fails to benefit a patient or a group of patients, I believe that physicians should be less cautious and more willing to assume a risk of failure with the patient in the use of non-traditional combinations of therapy, etc.  Of course, the acceptance of less proven methods of liver cancer treatment also implies an acceptance of more risks and lack of proven benefit on the part of the patient.  So the patient must be informed and be aware of the risks of going down a more uncertain path of therapy.  The downside of trying something different is that you might end up actively harming the patient and, outside of a clinical trial, you really gain no additional information that might help future patients.  The best way to try new clinical therapies in liver cancer treatment is by enrolling patients in clinical trials.  However, since 7 of 8 cancer patients are cared for in the community outside of major academic medical centers, many times, clinical trials are not be available, and, if available, may not be applicable to the case at hand.  So this paragraph is written with the idea of alternative treatments for liver cancer that have evolved out of the innovative mindset of physicians who try new ideas out on their patients with risk to that individual patient but that have, as a group, helped liver cancer treatment evolve.

Multiple treatment plans for liver cancers of differing stages and causes

The third and final definition of alternative liver cancer treatments applies to the various alternatives of treatment available for liver cancers of different types and different stages.  Examples include:

  • the use of liver transplantation for the patient with the small hepatocellular carcinoma
  • resection of the liver for the patient with resectable colon and rectal cancer liver metastases
  • radiofrequency ablation to bridge the patient with HCC to transplant
  • transarterial chemotherapy for the patient with advanced HCC
  • the administration of nexavar to the patient with retained liver function but far advanced HCC not amenable to other options

So, looked at in this way, many alternative liver cancer treatments are used for differing stages of different cancers, each of which has been vetted by continuing scrutiny by the medical community.


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