Treatments for stage B liver cancer

Last medical review:

The following are treatment options for stage B liver cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE)

TACE is a treatment that blocks the blood supply to a liver tumour and delivers chemotherapy directly to the tumour. It is the standard treatment for people who have good liver function, have a good performance status, do not have high blood pressure in the portal vein (called portal hypertension) and do not have a blood clot in the portal vein (called portal vein thrombosis).

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs to treat specific molecules (such as proteins) on cancer cells or inside them. By targeting these molecules, the drugs stop the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting harm to normal cells. The targeted therapy drugs used for stage B liver cancer are sorafenib (Nexavar) and lenvatinib (Lenvima).

Targeted therapy may be offered if you cannot have TACE because you have portal hypertension or portal vein thrombosis or if TACE did not work.

Radiation therapy

The following radiation therapy treatments may be offered if you are not able to have TACE.

Transarterial radioembolization (TARE) is a treatment that blocks the blood supply to a liver tumour and delivers radiation directly to the tumour.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a type of radiation therapy that delivers very focused beams of high-dose radiation to liver tumours.

Clinical trials

Talk to your doctor about clinical trials open to people with liver cancer in Canada. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Expert review and references

  • Kelly W Burak, MD, FRCPC, MSc(Epid)
  • Vincent Tam, BSc(Hon), MD, FRCPC
  • Burak KW, Sherman M. Hepatocellular carcinoma: consensus, controversies and future directions: a report from the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver hepatocellular carcinoma meeting. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2015: 29(4):178–184.
  • European Association for the Study of the Liver. EASL clinical practice guidelines: management of hepatocellular carcinoma. Journal of Hepatology. 2018: 69:182–236.
  • Heimback JK, Kulik LM, Finn RS, et al . AASLD guidelines for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma . Hepatology . 2017 : 67(1):358–380 .
  • Marrero JA, Kulik LM, Sirlin CB, et al . Diagnosis, staging, and management of hepatocellular carcinoma: 2018 practice guidance by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases . Hepatology . 2018 : 68(2):723–750 .
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Hepatobiliary Cancers (Version 3.2021). 2021.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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