Radiation Therapy

Liver Cancer Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. You may have radiation therapy to help shrink tumors in your liver and to control tumors and symptoms.

Conventional External-Beam Radiation Therapy

Conventional external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) uses a machine called a linear accelerator to send beams of high-energy X-rays (photons) toward the cancer. Typically, EBRT is given five days a week (Monday through Friday) for a few weeks. The treatments are painless and non-invasive, with each treatment lasting only a few minutes.

Patients of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) may receive conventional EBRT at these locations:

If your treatment involves radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist will determine the form that’s most appropriate for your tumors. There are several forms of EBRT, such as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). SBRT focuses many beams of radiation to deliver high doses of radiation to ablate or kill tumors. To target the radiation beams precisely, a specially designed body frame, which reduces movement, is used for each treatment.

Your radiation oncologist will also set the dosage and schedule for your radiation treatments, help you manage any side effects, and work closely with other members of your care team. Learn more in the section on radiation oncology.

Proton Therapy

With the opening of SCCA Proton Therapy, A ProCure Center on UW Medicine’s Northwest Hospital & Medical Center campus, SCCA now offers proton therapy as a treatment option for liver cancer. The clinical benefits that proton therapy offers over standard X-ray radiation therapy for certain types of cancer are becoming increasingly well known.

Proton therapy delivers less radiation to healthy tissues and organs around tumors. For liver cancers, proton therapy may allow your team to safely deliver higher doses of radiation to your tumors while better sparing your normal liver tissue, stomach, bowel, kidneys, and heart. This may increase the chances of controlling your tumors while reducing the side effects and complications often associated with radiation therapy. Learn more about proton therapy.

Side Effects

Normal cells that are near your cancer may be affected by radiation, which can lead to side effects. The side effects vary greatly from person to person and depend on the type and dose of the radiation and the area of the body being treated. Your treatment team can tell you about the side effects that are most common with your treatment.

Let your team know about any side effects you experience. Your doctor may give you medicines to prevent or relieve side effects. For general advice, see the symptom management section.

The time it takes to get over some side effects and regain energy depends on many factors, including your overall health and your treatment. Many side effects improve or go away after treatment is finished because your healthy cells recover over time.