Targeted chemotherapy medications works differently from other chemotherapy because they attack a specific target—like cancer-related proteins—rather than attacking all body tissue. They often have different and less severe side effects.
One example of a targeted chemotherapy medication for liver cancer is sorafenib. This medication is available as a pill. Sorafenib has been shown to stop the growth of cancer cells. It won’t cure liver cancer, but it can increase the lifespan of people who have this disease, typically for about 3 or 4 months.
Researchers are also studying the use of sorafenib in the early stages of liver cancer, often in combination with other kinds of treatment. They haven’t studied it much in people who have poor liver function, so it’s not known if it’s safe for these people.
Like other anticancer drugs, sorafenib has side effects including:
- dry mouth
- dry or peeling skin
- rash, sometimes with blistering of hands and feet
- hair loss
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- weight loss