Guarding Against Liver Cancer: India’s Approach to Prevention

Liver Cancer is known to be one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide. Also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), particularly in nations like India, where the prevalence of hepatitis B is high. In addition to Hepatitis B, it can also be brought on by alcohol misuse and other conditions like Hepatitis C that induce cirrhosis of the liver (see below).

Unfortunately, liver cancer may not be discovered until it has advanced. An ultrasound or CT scan performed because of upper abdominal pain or another unrelated symptom frequently reveals it. It can also happen to someone who has had liver cirrhosis in the past.

Once suspected, alpha feta protein (AFP) can be detected with a quick blood test. Sometimes, cancer that has progressed to the liver from another organ, usually the large intestine, might cause a malignant tumor there.

How To Prevent Liver Cancer

Preventing liver cancer involves adopting lifestyle changes and vaccination against certain viruses. Here are some key steps to help reduce the risk of liver cancer:

  • Hepatitis B Vaccination: Vaccinating against hepatitis B is one of the most effective ways to prevent liver cancer. Hepatitis B is a major risk factor for liver cancer, and vaccination can protect you from this virus.
  • Hepatitis C Screening and Treatment: If you are at risk for hepatitis C, such as through intravenous drug use or unprotected sex with an infected partner. Early detection and treatment of hepatitis C can significantly reduce the risk of liver cancer.
  • Practice Safe Sex: Engaging in safe sexual practices, such as using condoms, can help prevent the transmission of hepatitis B and C, which are sexually transmitted in some cases.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which is a significant risk factor for liver cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation or consider abstaining altogether.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are associated with an increased risk of liver cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce this risk.
  • Healthy Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can promote liver health. Limit the consumption of processed foods, high-sugar beverages, and fatty foods.
  • Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity helps with weight management, supports overall liver function, and reduces the risk of liver cancer.
  • Avoid Exposure to Toxins: Minimize exposure to environmental toxins, such as aflatoxins (naturally occurring toxins produced by molds on peanuts and grains), which can contribute to liver cancer. Proper food storage and handling can help reduce the risk of aflatoxin exposure.
  • Regular Medical Check-Ups: Regular health check-ups can help monitor your liver health and detect any potential issues early.
  • Limit Medication and Supplement Use: Be cautious with medications and dietary supplements, especially if you have liver disease. Some substances can harm the liver.
  • Manage Chronic Conditions: If you have chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or liver disease, work with your healthcare provider to manage them effectively, as they can increase the risk of liver cancer.
  • Avoid Sharing Needles: If you use intravenous drugs, do not share needles or other drug paraphernalia, as this can increase the risk of hepatitis transmission.

Preventing liver cancer is primarily about minimizing risk factors and promoting liver health through a healthy lifestyle.

If you are at increased risk due to family history or other factors, it is important to discuss your risk with a healthcare provider who can provide personalized guidance and monitoring. Regular screenings and early detection are key to successful treatment and better outcomes if liver cancer develops.

Liver Cancer Treatment in India

India is known for its advanced medical facilities and skilled healthcare professionals, making it a popular destination for treating liver cancer. These hospitals offer state-of-the-art facilities and highly skilled medical professionals.

India is also known to have the best cancer hospitals and is on par with world-renowned hospitals worldwide. When choosing a hospital for your hip replacement surgery, it is advisable to research and consult with healthcare experts to find the best fit for your needs.

The treatment of liver cancer in India typically involves a multidisciplinary approach and may include the following modalities:

1. Surgery

There can be many types. Here are the types of surgery done for liver cancer treatment in India.

  • Hepatectomy: This surgical procedure involves the removal of the tumor or a portion of the liver.
  • Liver Transplantation: In cases where the cancer has progressed significantly or the entire liver is affected, a liver transplant may be considered.
  1. Ablation Techniques: Minimally invasive techniques like radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or microwave ablation may be used to destroy small liver tumors.

2. Radiation Therapy

  • External Beam Radiation: High-energy X-rays target the tumor to kill cancer cells.
  • Radioembolization: Tiny radioactive beads are delivered directly to the liver tumor through the blood vessels.

3. Chemotherapy

  • Systemic Chemotherapy: Drugs that target cancer cells throughout the body may be administered orally or through intravenous infusion.
  • Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE): Chemotherapy drugs are directly delivered into the blood vessels feeding the tumor.

4. Targeted Therapy

Medications targeting molecular changes in cancer cells may be used, such as sorafenib or lenvatinib.

  • Immunotherapy

Immune checkpoint inhibitors, like nivolumab or pembrolizumab, may be used in advanced cases to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

  • Supportive Care

Managing symptoms and side effects is an important aspect of treatment, including pain management and nutritional support.

  • Clinical Trials

Participation in clinical trials may be an option for some patients, offering access to cutting-edge treatments and therapies.

Liver cancer treatment cost in India are often significantly lower than in many Western countries, making it an attractive option for medical tourists. However, the actual cost can vary widely based on the type of treatment, hospital category, and other individual factors.

Treatment choice depends on several factors, including the stage and extent of the cancer, the patient’s overall health, and the medical team’s expertise.

India boasts numerous healthcare facilities, including prestigious cancer hospitals and centers of excellence, where patients receive world-class treatment.

Patients seeking treatment for cancer treatment cost in India should consider factors like the hospital’s reputation, the expertise of the medical team, and post-operative care when making their decisions.

It is advisable to consult a healthcare provider to determine the most suitable treatment plan and explore all available options. 

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