Liver Cancer Treatment in India

Last Modified: May 6, 2020  |   Created on: May 6, 2020
Cancer Treatment

“The cost of liver cancer treatment in India starts from $2800. The liver cancer hospitals in India promise unparalleled health treatments at low-cost packages.

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Liver cancer treatment cost in India ranges from USD 2800 to USD 5500 depending on the type of treatment and several other factors. It is relatively lower than the price for the same procedure in countries such as the USA, UK, Germany, Australia and many others. The health packages offered by the best liver cancer hospitals in India are very economical. This helps an international patient save significant amount of money on their treatment, with no compromise on the quality.

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What are the factors that affect the cost of Liver cancer treatment in India?

The important factors that may influence the liver cancer treatment cost in India:

  • Type of treatment recommended by the doctor
  • Choice of hospital: location and accreditation
  • The doctor’s experience
  • Duration of hospitalization
  • Room category
  • Additional medical tests, if required
  • Expense for medications

How can Lyfboat assist you getting Liver cancer treatment in India?

World's Most Trusted Medical Advisory & Discount Platform

Lyfboat is a free advisory platform; we do not charge any fees from patients. In fact, we negotiate the price that Indian hospitals offer. In some cases we are able to reduce the cost by negotiating upto 20% of what Hospitals generally offer. We advise the best treatment from the top hospital/surgeon at best price.

Overview: Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is the kind of cancer that develops in the liver cells and results in formation of an abnormal mass of cells. The liver is the largest gland in the human body which performs a number of important functions, including removal of toxins and harmful substances from the body. Liver is located on the right upper portion of the abdominal area, right under the ribs. 

Some crucial functions performed by the liver include:

  • Production of bile, a substance which helps in digestion of fats, vitamins, and other nutrients.
  • Store the nutrients such as glucose, to ensure the body has a reservoir of energy source. 
  • Metabolize or breaks down the drugs and toxins

The development of cancer in the liver, leads to destruction of normal liver cells which interferes with its ability to function properly. The loss of liver function can drastically affect a person’s health and quality of life. 

Types of Liver Cancer

Liver cancer can be classified as primary or secondary, on the basis of its origin. A primary liver cancer originates from the cells of the liver, while a secondary liver cancer develops from the cancer cells from another part of the part of body spread to the liver. The cancer cells have the ability of metastasize, i.e. break away from the primary location where the cancer began and travel to other organ through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. These cancer cells then eventually grow and start forming tumour in another body organ.

The primary liver cancer can be of different types based on the various liver cells they originate from. It may start as a single small lump of abnormal cells, called tumour, growing in the liver, or develop in many places within the liver at the same time. Studies show that people who have severe liver damage are more likely to have the cancer that grow in multiple sites. 

The main types of primary liver cancer are:

Hepatocellular carcinoma

The hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer. It is also known as hepatoma and accounts for approximately 75 percent of all liver cancers. This type of cancer develops in the hepatocytes, the predominant cells in the liver. It is more chances of developing in people who have severe liver damage due to excessive alcohol consumption. HCC can metastasize and spread to other parts of the body, such as the pancreas, stomach and intestines

Cholangiocarcinoma

Cholangiocarcinoma is commonly referred to as the bile duct cancer. It develops bile ducts, the small, tube-like parts that carry bile to the gallbladder. Bile is a fluid that help in digestion of fats. This cancer accounts for 10 to 20 percent of all liver cancer types. The cancer that starts in the section of the bile ducts located inside the liver is called as intrahepatic bile duct cancer. Whereas the cancer that begins in the part of the ducts present outside the liver is called as extrahepatic bile duct cancer.

Liver Angiosarcoma

This is a rare type of liver cancer. Liver angiosarcoma starts in the blood vessels of the liver and can progress very quickly. Therefore, it’s typically diagnosed when it has has reached an advanced stage.

Hepatoblastoma

Hepatoblastoma is even more rare form of liver cancer. This type of cancer is more often found in children, especially less than the age of 3 years. When hepatoblastoma, similar to many other cancers, is detected in the early stages, the survival rate is more than 90 percent. The outlook for patients with this type of cancer tends to be very good with surgery and chemotherapy. 

Stages of Liver Cancer

The stage of cancer is an important factor that indicates the extent and severity of spread of the cancer. This helps and guides the cancer specialists in formulating a treatment plan and determine the prognosis of liver cancer. The stages are usually classified into four stages based on the cancer progression:

Stage 1: The cancer remains limited to the liver; there is no spread to nearby organ or other parts of the body.

Stage 2: There can be several small tumors that are restricted to the liver only or one tumor that has spread to a blood vessel.

Stage 3: Either there are many large tumors or one tumor that has spread to the main, large blood vessel.

Stage 4: This is an advanced stage where the cancer has metastasized and spread to other parts of the body.

The liver cancer doctors in India consider the stage and various individual factors to design a personalized tailor-made plan for each patient. They aim to treat a cancer patient with holistic approach to eradicate as much as possible cancer cells.

Risk factors for liver cancer

There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of development of primary liver cancer in a person:

  • Chronic viral infection: Long term infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) increases the risk of liver cancer.
  • Cirrhosis: This is a progressive and irreversible condition that leads to formation of scar tissue to form in your liver and increases your chances of developing liver cancer.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: The blood sugar disorder can raise the risk of liver cancer in a person, in comparison to those who don’t have diabetes.
  • Inherited liver diseases: Certain liver diseases are inherited or genetic and some of these conditions such as hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease, can increase the risk of liver cancer.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: People with an accumulation of fat in their liver have a higher risk of having liver cancer.
  • Exposure to aflatoxins: Certain molds/fungus produce a poion called Aflatoxins. These fungi usually grow on poorly stored crops, such as grains and nuts. These crops then become contaminated with aflatoxins. Consumptions of foods made of these products over a long period of time can increase the liver cancer risk.
  • Excessive alcohol intake: Consuming alcoholic beverages in more than a moderate amount of alcohol daily or regularly over several years can cause irreversible damage to liver cells and increase the risk of liver cancer. 
  • Low immunity: A weakened immune system, such as in the case of HIV or AIDS make people more prone to liver cancer. It is reported that people with compromised immunity have five times greater than healthy individuals.
  • Obesity: Being overweight increases the risk of developing many kinds of cancers. Obesity can contribute to cirrhosis and fatty liver disease, and lead to development of liver cancer.
  • Gender: Liver cancer is reported, according to the American Cancer Society, to occur three times more in males in comparison females.
  • Smoking: Smokers, former as well as currently active, have a greater risk of liver cancer than those who have never smoked.

What are the symptoms of liver cancer?

The symptoms at an early stage live cancer are hardly apparent, and are usually noticed when the cancer has advanced. 

Some liver cancer symptoms include 

  • Pain on the upper abdomen, typically on the right side, or back and shoulder
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling of fullness 
  • Abdominal swelling and bloating 
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue 
  • Fever
  • Jaundice: yellowness in the white portion of the eyes and the skin

How is liver cancer diagnosed?

A series of physical examination and imaging tests are used to detect a liver cancer. 

To confirm the diagnosis, doctors may recommend following tests: 

  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound tests
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Angiograms

The doctor may also suggest a liver biopsy. During a biopsy, a thin needle is inserted through the skin of the upper abdomen and into the liver to obtain a tissue sample. The small piece of liver tissue is studied under the microscope to check for malignancies. Sometimes, a biopsy is necessary to make a definitive diagnosis of liver cancer. A liver biopsy have a risk of bleeding, bruising and infection.

Liver cancer treatment in India

The treatment plan for a liver cancer patient is designed on the basis of following factors:

  • Extent of damage to the liver
  • Size, location and number of tumours in the liver
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
  • Overall health status and age of the patient

Treatment options for the patient whose cancer has not spread and is restricted to only a part of the liver are:

Surgery: If the cancer is found at an early stage when the rest of the liver is healthy and the cancer is located to only a region of the liver, surgery is usually the choice of treatment. It involves to remove the tumor from the liver. 

This can be done through a procedure called partial hepatectomy. During this operation, the surgeon removes the part of the liver to stop the cancer from growing further and spreading. It is usually an option when the tumor is small and a limited section of the organ is affected.

In people who have liver cancer due to cirrhosis or have scar tissue in the liver, the surgeon will have to leave enough healthy tissue after the hepatectomy surgery so the liver can function normally.

However, it is important to note that people with otherwise healthy liver function are suitable candidates for a hepatectomy. Also, the procedure may not be the recommended treatment option when the cancer has already spread to other parts of the liver or other organs in the body. Liver surgery for such cases have the risk of excessive bleeding, blood clotting, infections and pneumonia.

Another surgical option for liver cancer patient is a liver cancer transplant. Patients with cancer that has not spread to other parts can have an option of a liver transplant. In this surgery, the diseased liver of the patient is replaced with a healthy liver from a donor.

Liver transplant surgery can be of two types depending on the donor: living donor transplant or deceased (cadaver) donor liver transplant. For a living donor liver transplant, a portion of healthy liver from a matched living donor is used to replace the damaged liver of the patient. The doctor will perform certain tests for both the donor and recipient to determine compatibility match. 

In case of a deceased donor liver transplant, the entire liver from a cadaver (person who has recently died and has healthy organs) is taken and put into the patient. 

Other treatment options for cancer that has not spread outside the liver and if surgery and transplant are not possible include:

Radiofrequency ablation: This method involves the use of a special probe to destroy the cancer cells with heat. The surgeon uses radio waves, electromagnetic waves, or alcohol directly to shrink the tumour or prevent any further growth. 

Cryosurgery: In this treatment, a metal probe is used to freeze and destroy the cancer cells. The doctor places an instrument, called cryoprobe, guided by the ultrasound images, directly onto liver tumors. The proble contains liquid nitrogen to freeze the cells which prevents their growth or destroys them.

Chemoembolization: In this procedure, the anticancer drugs are directly injected into the tumours in the liver. This blocks the blood supply to the tumor eventually resulting in their death.

Radiation beads: This method involves the use of beads filled with radiation. These tiny spheres are placed in the liver to directly deliver radiation in the tumour.

Radiation therapy: High radiation, such as high-energy x-rays are used to kill the cancer cells. There are different methods of radiation delivery which can be used to effectively destroy the tumour. Some common side effects of radiation treatment include nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. The advanced radiation therapy methods such as stereotactic radiation therapy which precisely delivers the radiation to the cancer cells, preventing damage to the surrounding healthy cells. 

For advanced cancer or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body:

Treatment may include certain oral medication in some cases of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Palliative care to improve the symptoms and quality of life is also included in the treatment plan for patients with advanced stages of cancer

Another option for some patients is to take part in clinical trials, if recommended by the doctors.

What can I do to prevent the chances of developing liver cancer?

Liver cancer does not have a very good outlook and the survival rate is low in comparison to some other cancers. There are some preventive steps that a person can follow to reduce the risk of having the disease. Also, this may improve their chances of early detection. As a general rule, early detection of a cancer increase the chances of a successful treatment. 

Although, there is no way to completely prevent liver cancer, the following measures may help reduce the risk for it:

Limiting the alcohol intake: Regular consumption of high amounts of alcohol for a long time is a major risk factor for developing cirrhosis and liver cancer. Moderating the levels or even abstaining (in case you have other risk factors also) from drinking alcohol can remarkably reduce the risk of liver cancer.

Stop or reduce tobacco use: As smoking is a risk factor of many types of cancers, it is best to avoid the habit if you haven’t already started. For people who smoke, limiting the number of smokes or cutting back completely is advisable, especially for people who have hepatitis B and C.

Hepatitis B vaccination: As a chronic Hep B infection can raise the risk of liver cancer, following people should consider having the vaccine:

  • Those who have a drug dependency and share needles for substance abuse
  • People who have unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • Medical professionals such as nurses, doctors, dentists, and others whose may have greater risk of hepatitis B infection
  • People who frequently visit areas or countries where hepatitis B is prevalent

Although, there is no definitive way of preventing hepatitis C infection (and there are no vaccination for it), using a condom or other protections during sexual intercourse may help reduce the risk of this infection.

A healthy body weight: Obesity is one of the major causes for risk factors such as fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and diabetes, and can lead to risk for liver cancer. Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) is an important step for reducing liver cancer risk.

Treatment of underlying medical conditions: Disorders such as diabetes and hemochromatosis can lead to liver cancer. Treating these conditions timely, i.e., before they can develop into liver cancer can prevent chances of having a liver cancer.

Dr. Suneet Singh

Written By Dr. Suneet Singh

Dr. Suneet is a doctor-turned-Hospital Administrator with a rich 12 years plus multi-faceted experience in the field of operations management, Corporate and Public Health Administration. Formerly a practicing doctor, Dr. Suneet holds a post-graduate degree in Hospital and Healthcare management from one of the country's esteemed Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
Dr. Surbhi Suden

Verified By Dr. Surbhi Suden

Dr. Surbhi Suden is one of the founders of Lyfboat and a doctor with a renowned name in the Medical tourism industry. She has been working with international patients since 2008 and is a deeply committed professional with a long term vision of transforming the current healthcare scenarios.

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