Liver Cancer

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Treating Liver Cancer TOPICS

Targeted therapy for liver cancer

As researchers have learned more about the changes in cells that cause cancer, they have been able to develop newer drugs that specifically target these changes. Targeted drugs work differently from standard chemotherapy drugs (which are described in “Chemotherapy for liver cancer”). They often have different (and less severe) side effects.

Like chemotherapy, these drugs work systemically – they enter the bloodstream and reach all areas of the body, which makes them potentially useful against cancers that have spread to distant organs. Because standard chemotherapy has not been effective in most patients with liver cancer, doctors have been looking at targeted therapies more.


Sorafenib (Nexavar®) is a targeted drug that works in 2 ways. It helps block tumors from forming new blood vessels, which they need to grow. It also targets some of the proteins on cancer cells that normally help them grow.

Sorafenib is a pill that is taken twice daily. The most common side effects of this drug include fatigue, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and redness, pain, swelling, or blisters on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

More information about targeted therapy drugs can be found in Targeted Therapy.

Last Medical Review: 03/31/2016
Last Revised: 04/28/2016