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Systemic Therapy/Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of medicine to destroy cancer cells in the body. It is usually administered intravenously, although some newer forms are taken orally.

Your physician may recommend chemotherapy to treat primary or secondary liver cancer, gallbladder cancer or cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)--or to shrink the tumor before surgery. Depending on your clinical situation, chemotherapy may be given before, after, or both before and after your surgery. 

Our multidisciplinary approach involves medical and surgical oncologists working together closely. We frequently use chemotherapy to prepare patients who may not be considered for surgery at other institutions so they can become candidates for surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Medical oncologists Dr. Laheru and Dr. Cosgrove review the results of a patient's chemotherapy progress.
Medical oncologists Dr. Laheru and Dr. Cosgrove review the results of a patient's progress

Different agents are used in the treatment of liver cancer, gallbladder cancer and liver diseases. Sometimes these agents are used alone, but other times these agents are combined into regimens of multiple drugs. The most commonly used agents include:

  • 5-flurouracil. This is a drug often used in combination with oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) or irinotecan (FOLFIRI) in the treatment of colon cancer that has spread to the liver.  
  • Oxaliplatin.  This is a drug often used in combination with 5-flurouracil (FOLOX) in the treatment of colon cancer that has spread to the liver.
  • Irinotecan. This is a drug often used in combination with 5-flurouracil (FOLFIRI) in the treatment of colon cancer that has spread to the liver.
  • Cetuximab. This is a “biologic” agent that is an antibody used to help kill tumor cells. It can be used alone or in combination with other regimens like FOLFOX or FOLFIRI. Only certain patients will benefit from treatment with cetuximab, depending on the genetic profile of your cancer. 
  • Avastin. This is a “biologic” agent that is an antibody used to help kill tumor cells.  It can be used in combination with other regimens like FOLFOX or FOLFIRI.
  • Sorafenib. This is a “biologic” agent that is used to treat liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma/HCC) that is advanced or has spread outside of the liver.
  • Octreotide (somatostatin). This is a “biologic” agent that is used to treat select patients with neuroendocrine/carcinoid tumors.
 

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Whether crossing the country or the globe, we make it easy to access world-class care at Johns Hopkins.

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International +1-410-614-6424

 

 
 
 
 
 

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