Liver Cancer Treatment

Liver Cancer Treatment & Its Cost in India

In recent times, there have been significant advancements in the treatment of liver cancer. While surgery remains a viable option for some patients, it’s not suitable for everyone. Fortunately, doctors now have a wider range of alternatives, thanks to ongoing research into innovative therapies.

One notable aspect of liver cancer treatment in India is its affordability compared to many developed countries. The cost of treating liver cancer in India typically falls within the range of Rs. 1,50,000 to Rs. 4,00,000. Factors such as the type of treatment, hospital facilities, and individual patient needs may influence the final expenses incurred.  India’s ability to offer cost-effective liver cancer treatment without compromising on quality has enhanced its standing in the global medical community.

This achievement is attributed to the state-of-the-art medical technology utilized in Indian healthcare facilities, as well as the expertise of oncologists and surgeons.

What is Liver Cancer?

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is characterized by the abnormal growth of cells within the liver. This vital organ plays a key role in filtering blood, metabolizing nutrients, and detoxifying harmful substances. When cells in the liver begin to multiply uncontrollably, they form tumors that can disrupt its normal functions.

Various factors contribute to the onset of liver cancer, such as chronic viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and exposure to toxins like aflatoxins.

Types of Liver Cancer

Understand the different types of liver cancer for a better line of treatment: 

Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC): This is the most common type of liver cancer, originating from hepatocytes (liver cells). It’s often associated with underlying liver conditions such as cirrhosis and hepatitis B or C infections. HCC is more prevalent in men and tends to increase with age.

Fibrolamellar Carcinoma: A rare form of liver cancer, fibrolamellar carcinoma typically affects younger individuals, usually in their 20s or 30s. Unlike other liver cancers, it’s not typically linked to cirrhosis or viral infections like hepatitis. Additionally, fibrolamellar carcinoma often doesn’t show elevated levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the blood.

Bile Duct Cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma): Cholangiocarcinoma specifically targets the bile ducts, which are tubes that connect the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. This cancer can be categorized as extrahepatic (outside the liver) or intrahepatic (within the liver). It’s a relatively rare form of cancer but requires accurate diagnosis and treatment due to its impact on vital bile duct functions.

Angiosarcoma: This rare form of liver cancer, also known as hemangiosarcoma, originates in the blood vessels of the liver. It’s more commonly diagnosed in elderly individuals and presents a significant medical challenge due to its rarity and unique characteristics.

Hepatoblastoma: Hepatoblastoma is an exceptionally rare type of liver cancer that primarily affects children, usually before the age of 2. While it’s rare, it requires specialized attention and treatment due to its occurrence in pediatric cases.

Line of Treatment For Liver Cancer With Cost

Understand the different treatment options for Liver Cancer and as estimated cost attached to each to help you determine the right line of treatment and financial planning: 

Surveillance For Liver Cancer

Surveillance involves monitoring lesions smaller than 1 centimeter detected during screening, typically with follow-up every 3 months. It entails closely observing a patient’s condition without administering treatment unless there are indications of deterioration in test results. 

Active surveillance involves regular examinations and tests conducted on a scheduled basis to track any changes in the condition. This approach allows healthcare providers to closely monitor the progression of the condition while minimizing unnecessary treatment interventions until warranted by changes in the patient’s health status.

Surgery For Liver Cancer

Surgery, known as partial hepatectomy, involves removing the portion of the liver containing cancer. This can include removing a wedge of tissue, an entire lobe, or a larger section, along with surrounding healthy tissue. 

The remaining liver tissue then assumes the liver’s functions and has the potential to regenerate. Partial hepatectomy aims to eliminate cancerous cells while preserving as much healthy liver tissue as possible, enabling the liver to continue its vital functions and potentially regrow to its original size.

Liver Transplant for Liver Cancer

A liver transplant involves the complete removal of the diseased liver and its replacement with a healthy liver from a donor. This procedure is typically performed when the liver disease is confined to the liver and a suitable donor liver is available. In cases where a donor liver is not immediately available, alternative treatments are provided to manage the patient’s condition until a suitable liver becomes accessible. 

Liver transplant offers a potential cure for liver disease by replacing the damaged liver with a healthy one, allowing patients to regain normal liver function and improve their overall health and quality of life.

Ablation Therapy For Liver Cancer

Ablation therapy is a technique used to remove or destroy tissue, commonly employed in the treatment of liver cancer. Several types of ablation therapies are utilized:

Radiofrequency Ablation: This procedure involves inserting special needles directly into the tumor, either through the skin or via an abdominal incision. High-energy radio waves emitted from the needles heat up the tumor, effectively killing cancer cells.

Microwave Therapy: Tumors are exposed to high temperatures generated by microwaves, which can either directly damage and kill cancer cells or enhance their sensitivity to radiation and certain anticancer drugs.

Percutaneous Ethanol Injection: Pure alcohol (ethanol) is injected directly into the tumor using a small needle, resulting in the destruction of cancer cells. Multiple treatments may be necessary, typically performed under local anesthesia or, in cases of multiple liver tumors, under general anesthesia.

Cryoablation: Cancer cells are destroyed through freezing using a specialized instrument. This technique, also known as cryotherapy or cryosurgery, may be guided by ultrasound for precise targeting.

Electroporation Therapy: Electrical pulses are delivered through an electrode inserted into the tumor to eliminate cancer cells. This innovative therapy is currently undergoing clinical trials to assess its efficacy in treating liver cancer.

Embolization Therapy For Liver Cancer

Embolization therapy is a non-surgical option for patients ineligible for tumor removal surgery or ablation therapy, and whose liver cancer remains localized. It involves blocking or reducing blood flow to the tumor by introducing substances into the hepatic artery. By depriving the tumor of oxygen and nutrients, its growth is halted.

The liver receives blood from two main sources: the hepatic portal vein and the hepatic artery. During embolization therapy, substances are used to block the hepatic artery, ensuring that healthy liver tissue continues to receive blood from the portal vein.

There are two primary types of embolization therapy:

Transarterial Embolization (TAE): This involves making a small incision in the inner thigh and inserting a catheter into the hepatic artery. A substance is then injected to block the artery and impede blood flow to the tumor.

Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE): Similar to TAE, TACE also includes administering an anticancer drug. The drug may be attached to small beads injected into the hepatic artery or directly infused into the artery via the catheter. This targeted delivery ensures minimal systemic exposure to the drug, enhancing its effectiveness while minimizing side effects.

Targeted Therapy For Liver Cancer

Targeted therapy is a specialized treatment approach that employs drugs or substances to pinpoint and destroy particular cancer cells. In advanced liver cancer cases, targeted therapies like bevacizumab, cabozantinib, lenvatinib, ramucirumab, regorafenib, and sorafenib are utilized. These medications are designed to specifically target and attack cancerous cells, offering a more precise and effective treatment option for patients with advanced liver cancer.

Immunotherapy For Liver Cancer

Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own immune system to combat cancer by utilizing substances either naturally produced by the body or synthesized in a laboratory. These substances are employed to enhance, guide, or restore the body’s innate defenses against cancerous cells.

A specific type of immunotherapy known as immune checkpoint inhibitors is utilized in the treatment of liver cancer. Examples of immune checkpoint inhibitors used for liver cancer treatment include atezolizumab in combination with the targeted therapy bevacizumab, nivolumab combined with ipilimumab, pembrolizumab, and durvalumab in conjunction with tremelimumab. These medications work by disrupting the mechanisms that cancer cells use to evade detection by the immune system, thereby enhancing the body’s ability to recognize and eliminate cancerous cells.

Also Read: Liver Cancer: Types, Symptoms. Diagnosis, Sages and Immunotherapy Treatment

Radiation Therapy For Liver Cancer

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy x-rays or radiation directed from outside the body toward the cancer-affected area. Administered over a series of treatments, this approach allows healthy cells time to recover and maximizes the effectiveness of radiation. The number of treatments is tailored to specific details about the cancer, such as tumor size and location.

Various techniques are employed to minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissue:

Conformal Radiation Therapy: This method utilizes computer-generated 3-dimensional images of the tumor to precisely shape radiation beams, ensuring a high dose targets the tumor while minimizing harm to nearby tissue.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT): SBRT involves delivering a larger dose of radiation directly to the tumor over several days, with the patient positioned consistently for each treatment. This technique reduces damage to adjacent healthy tissue.

Proton Beam Radiation Therapy: Proton beam therapy employs streams of positively charged protons to destroy tumor cells, potentially reducing radiation-related damage to healthy tissue near the tumor site.

Liver Cancer Treatment Costs in Different Cities of India

The cost mentioned here is for general information only. Actual treatment costs may vary based on individual diagnosis and severity of the condition. Please consult your doctor for accurate pricing information.

City Lowest Cost Average Cost Highest Cost
New Delhi ₹3,75,000 ₹4,50,000 ₹5,75,000
Mumbai ₹3,25,000 ₹4,75,000 ₹6,00,000
Nagpur ₹3,75,000 ₹4,50,000 ₹5,75,000
Pune ₹2,25,000 ₹3,00,000 ₹5,00,000
Gurgaon / Gurugram ₹3,75,000 ₹4,50,000 ₹5,75,000
Ahmedabad ₹3,50,000 ₹5,00,000 ₹6,25,000
Chandigarh ₹3,25,000 ₹4,75,000 ₹6,00,000
Jaipur ₹3,75,000 ₹4,50,000 ₹5,75,000
Noida ₹3,75,000 ₹4,50,000 ₹5,75,000
Kolkata ₹3,50,000 ₹5,00,000 ₹6,25,000
Kerala ₹3,75,000 ₹4,50,000 ₹5,75,000
Bangalore ₹3,50,000 ₹5,00,000 ₹6,25,000
Hyderabad ₹3,25,000 ₹4,75,000 ₹6,00,000
Chennai ₹3,25,000 ₹4,75,000 ₹6,00,000

Different Factors to Determine the Treatment Cost

Liver cancer treatment costs can vary widely depending on several factors. Understanding these factors can help patients and their families prepare for the financial aspects of treatment and make informed decisions about their healthcare. Some of the notable factors to consider include:

Treatment Method

The choice of treatment method significantly influences the overall cost. Treatment options for liver cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these approaches. Each method carries its own set of expenses, with some being more expensive than others.

Type of Surgery

If surgery is part of the treatment plan, the specific type of surgical procedure required will impact the cost. This could range from minimally invasive procedures like laparoscopic surgery to more extensive surgeries such as liver resection or liver transplant. The complexity and duration of the surgery play a significant role in determining the expenses involved.

Hospital Fees

Hospital charges encompass various services, including pre-operative assessments, surgical facilities, post-operative care, nursing services, medications, and medical supplies. The reputation and location of the hospital can also influence the overall cost.

Room Category

The type of accommodation chosen during hospitalization contributes to the total cost. Patients can opt for different room categories ranging from general wards to private rooms with enhanced amenities. The level of comfort and privacy desired by the patient impacts the expenses incurred.

Other Treatments Required

Liver cancer treatment may involve additional therapies beyond the primary treatment method. These may include supportive care, palliative care, nutritional support, pain management, or treatments for managing side effects. Each of these services adds to the overall cost of treatment.

Investigations & Evaluations

Before initiating treatment, patients undergo various diagnostic tests and evaluations to determine the extent of the disease and plan an appropriate course of action. These investigations may include imaging studies (like CT scans, MRI scans, or PET scans), blood tests, biopsies, and consultations with specialists. The frequency and complexity of these evaluations contribute to the overall expense.

Geographical Location

Treatment costs may vary based on the city or region where the hospital is located. Urban areas with higher living costs and more advanced healthcare facilities may have higher treatment expenses.

Rehabilitation and Follow-Up Care

After undergoing treatment, patients may require rehabilitation services to regain strength and functionality. Additionally, regular follow-up appointments and monitoring are essential to track the progress of treatment, detect any recurrence or complications, and ensure optimal long-term outcomes.

Final Note

Understanding the factors affecting liver cancer treatment costs in India is crucial for patients. By discussing these factors with healthcare providers, individuals can make informed decisions about their treatment journey. India’s commitment to providing affordable and quality care ensures accessible options for liver cancer patients, improving overall outcomes.

Also Read: Liver Cancer: Types, Symptoms. Diagnosis, Sages and Immunotherapy Treatment

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