Targeted Therapies for Liver Cancer

Doctors at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center may prescribe a targeted drug or use targeted radiation treatments for liver cancer if surgery or ablation is either not possible or not recommended.

Targeted Drugs

Targeted drugs destroy cancer cells while avoiding healthy cells. This treatment may be combined with traditional chemotherapy, in which drugs are used to destroy cancer cells throughout the body.

Typically, a targeted drug is prescribed if liver cancer has spread to other organs in the body or cancer from other organs has spread to the liver. It is also used when surgery isn’t possible right away, because tumors are too large or too close to important blood vessels.

Liver Tumor Program

Through ongoing clinical trials, doctors in our Liver Tumor Program can find the best targeted medications and immunotherapies for you.

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Sorafenib and regorafenib are multikinase inhibitors, that target and block the proteins that signal liver tumors to grow or form the blood vessels that feed a tumor. Targeted drugs may be prescribed to treat colon cancer that has spread to the liver. This includes bevacizumab, which decreases blood supply to the tumor, and cetuximab, which can slow tumor growth. Nivolumab is a new anti-PD1 inhibitor that helps accelerate the immune system’s response to shrink liver tumors or slow their growth.

Our researchers were involved in studies of nivolumab, an immunotherapy drug that was recently approved by the FDA to treat people with advanced liver cancer.

Targeted drugs may result in fewer side effects than traditional systemic chemotherapy, in which drugs are used to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. Sometimes, however, targeted drugs are combined with traditional chemotherapy to make it more effective.

We are experts in stereotactic body radiotherapy, or Cyberknife®, to treat liver tumors without affecting nearby healthy tissue.

Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy

Stereotactic body radiotherapy delivers a focused and precise high dose of radiation to tumors while sparing nearby healthy tissue. Also called radiosurgery or CyberKnife®, it is a non-invasive, computer-assisted therapy that is used to treat smaller liver tumors when ablation therapies are not possible or recommended.

A radiation oncologist with expertise in treating the liver determines if you are a candidate for stereotactic body radiotherapy. About a week before the first treatment, planning imaging called CT or MRI simulation is performed to help your doctor create an individualized treatment plan based on the most up-to-date tumor images.

In this therapy, you lie on a table while a robotic arm delivers targeted radiation to the tumor or tumors from different angles. The painless, 60-minute treatments are performed on an outpatient basis 2 to 3 times a week for two weeks. Some people experience mild fatigue or nausea, which are treated with medication.

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Perlmutter Cancer Center specialists provide care and support during treatment.

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