Chemotherapy is a powerful cancer-killing drug that is delivered into the body, either orally or intravenously.
There are many chemotherapy drugs that this particular malignancy often resists, though chemotherapy is sometimes used as treatment for liver cancer. The chemotherapy drugs that have proven most effective in treating liver cancer are cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil and doxorubicin, but they still only shrink a small number of liver tumors.
Liver cancer is not usually cured by chemotherapy. Traditional chemotherapy is not effective in treating liver cancer, so physicians sometimes recommend a different form of chemotherapy called hepatic artery infusion (HAI).
The chemotherapy drugs are put directly into the hepatic artery, a short blood vessel that supplies blood to the liver, in this treatment. This technique, which allows more of the chemotherapy drugs to reach the tumor, is often more effective than traditional systemic chemotherapy.
However, a catheter must be inserted into the hepatic artery before beginning HAI, and some liver cancer patients may not be strong enough to tolerate the procedure, making them unable to receive this kind of treatment.