Liver cancer

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Immunotherapy for liver cancer

Some people with liver cancer have immunotherapy. Immunotherapy helps to strengthen or restore the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is sometimes called biological therapy.

Immunotherapy is used with advanced or metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma. You may have immunotherapy to:

  • shrink advanced or metastatic liver cancer tumours
  • control symptoms of liver cancer

The immunotherapy drug used for liver cancer is nivolumab (Opdivo). It may be offered to people with advanced or metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma, who have already had treatment with sorafenib (Nexavar). It may also be offered to people who aren’t able to take sorafenib.

Side effects

Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for liver cancer, but everyone’s experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Other people have few or none at all.

Side effects of immunotherapy will depend mainly on the type of drug or drug combination, the dose, how it’s given and your overall health. Nivolumab may cause these side effects:

Report side effects

Be sure to report side effects to the healthcare team. Side effects can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after immunotherapy. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years later. Most side effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some side effects may last a long time or become permanent.  

Your healthcare team is there to help. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.

Information about specific cancer drugs

Details on specific drugs change regularly. Find out more about sources of drug information and where to get details on specific drugs.

Questions to ask about immunotherapy

Find out more about immunotherapy. To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about immunotherapy.