When it comes to treating liver cancer, sorafenib has traditionally been considered the most effective treatment. However, a trial was recently conducted comparing sorafenib treatment to selective internal radiation therapy. Patients who were treated using selective internal radiation therapy displayed similar overall survival to those that were treated with sorafenib, not to mention that selective internal radiation therapy resulted in fewer treatment-related adverse effects.
The study was the very first hepatocellular carcinoma study of a liver-directed therapy against systemic chemotherapy. The results of the trial were showcased this year at the International Liver Congress in Amsterdam, Netherlands. According to the leading investigator of the trial, Professor Valerie Vilgrain, sorafenib has been the go-to treatment for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. She stated that even though the treatment has been proven effective at extending patients’ survival compared to a placebo, the treatment also resulted in side effects that diminished their quality of life.
The way that selective internal radiation therapy works is that it delivers internal radiation directly to the liver tumors through the hepatic artery. This form of treatment only requires two total treatments, whereas sorafenib is provided via a tablet that’s taken twice a day. Until now, sorafenib was the only treatment available for advanced liver cancer.
Over the course of the trial, the liver cancer patients/subjects’ quality of life was measured every three months using a questionnaire. The results clearly showed that patients treated with selective internal radiation therapy had a substantially better quality of life than patients that were being treated with sorafenib. These patients were also more likely to maintain their health status over time.
Although certain treatments can extend the life of individuals suffering from serious diseases, such as liver cancer, diminishing the quality of life in order to extend it isn’t a fair tradeoff. It’s why researchers are hopeful that selective internal radiation therapy can become an effective alternative to sorafenib for liver cancer patients.
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