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3 liver cancer treatments you should know about

Written by: Dr Julian Hague
Edited by: Cal Murphy

Around 5,700 people in the UK are diagnosed with liver cancer each year – this works out to around 16 new cases every day! Luckily, there are several treatment options to combat this disease. Leading clinical and interventional radiologist Dr Julian Hague talked to us about three liver cancer treatments you might not know about, but should.

What is TACE (transarterial chemo-embolisation)?

The TACE procedure is a method of sending high dose chemotherapy into the liver via the arteries.

Some varieties of liver tumour can be very difficult to treat with the usual chemotherapy methods (such as injections and tablets). In some cases, these tumours can be treated by inserting a thin catheter or tube into the main artery in the top of the thigh and then guiding it through the artery to the liver, using X-rays to see where it is. TACE is often done under local anaesthetic or light sedation.


What is chemosaturation?

Liver chemosaturation is a new technique aimed at delivering very high doses of chemotherapy into the liver whilst on a liver bypass machine (similar to a heart bypass machine). This is done under a general anaesthetic. Whilst it is relatively new, this has been shown to be very effective for certain types of tumour (such as ocular melanoma metastases to the liver). There are also several ongoing trials looking at this procedure in other tumour types.


What is SIRT (selective internal radiation therapy)?

SIRT is a way of delivering high dose of radioactive particles into liver tumours, in a similar way to TACE. This is a relatively new technique but has been shown to be effective for tumours such as colorectal liver metastases, hepatocellular carcinoma, and breast cancer. These treatments are usually discussed with your oncologist if they feel it is appropriate in your case. Most of the time, this can be done under local anaesthetic or light sedation. Recovery back to normal activities normally takes around a week.


Dr Hague is an expert in interventional radiology and chemoembolisation techniques, and works in a team of specialists (including anaesthetists, oncologists, specialist nurses) to deliver these treatments.

By Dr Julian Hague
Interventional radiology

Dr Julian Hague is a leading clinical and interventional radiologist based in London. He specialises in endovascular procedures, liver-directed tumour treatments, and treating deep vein thrombosis. He is an expert in liver chemo-embolisation (DEB-TACE) - a procedure for treating certain types of cancer which delivers a large dose of chemotherapy directly to liver tumours.

Qualifying from the Royal Free Hospital in 1995, Dr Hague subsequently trained at University College Hospitals and Middlesex Hospital, gaining the skills in surgery and radiology that today make him one of the best in his field. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists (FRCR) in 2006, after which he was appointed Consultant Radiologist at both UCH and the Royal Free. Dr Hague is actively involved in research and his work has been widely published.

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