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Two Liver Cancer Treatments Better Than One
Date:4/8/2008

Survival time rose with combo therapy for advanced disease, study finds,,

TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- By combining a special type of chemotherapy (TACE) with another treatment called radiofrequency ablation (RFA), Chinese researchers boosted the survival of people with advanced liver cancer by an average of 13 to 15 months compared to either treatment alone.

"Our study demonstrates that combination therapy with TACE and RFA was an effective and safe treatment that may improve long-term survival for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma larger than three centimeters," said Dr. Bao-Quan Cheng, from the Qilu Hospital and Shandong University School of Medicine in Jinan, China.

Results of the study were published in the April 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hepatocellular carcinoma is responsible for as many as 90 percent of all liver cancers, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Cirrhosis of the liver, often caused by hepatitis B or C or alcoholism, is usually at the root of such cancers. Cirrhosis can make treatment for this type of cancer more difficult, because it damages the liver so much that the liver can't process medications effectively. Only 10 percent to 20 percent of these cancers can be successfully treated with surgery.

For those whose tumors can't be removed with surgery, liver transplantation, chemotherapy and radiofrequency ablation are all options. TACE (transarterial chemoembolization) is a special type of chemotherapy that delivers chemotherapy drugs directly to the blood vessels feeding the tumor. Radiofrequency ablation uses electrodes to produce heat and destroy cancerous tissue.

The most commonly used treatment in the United States for advanced liver cancer is transplantation, according to Dr. Milan Kinkhabwala, chief of abdominal transplantation at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "If the tumor can
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