It is hard to limit the effects of therapy so that only cancer cells are destroyed. Because treatment often damages healthy cells and tissues, it can cause unpleasant side effects. The side effects of cancer treatment vary, depending on the type of treatment. Also, each patient reacts differently.

The side effects of surgery depend on the extent of the operation, the patient's general health and other factors. Pain for the first few days after surgery is to be expected, but it can be controlled with medicine. People should feel free to discuss pain relief with the doctor or nurse.

Because it affects the whole body, chemotherapy is useful for treating liver metastases from other tumors. Chemotherapy damages rapidly dividing cells, like cancer cells. Unfortunately, other cells in the body, like hair follicle cells, cells lining the digestive tract, and blood-producing cells of bone marrow are also affected by chemotherapy, causing hair loss, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, bruising and bleeding, increased chance of infection, and fatigue. Doctors can alleviate some of these symptoms with medication, so patients with side effects should inform their cancer care team. Recently, hepatic artery infusion has been studied as a treatment for HCC. This is a type of regional chemotherapy in which drugs are injected directly into the artery that supplies blood to the liver.

Radiation therapy is not often used because the entire liver, not just the tumor, is negatively affected by the radiation, and no real effect on survival has been shown.

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