If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with liver cancer, our collaborative team is here to guide you. We help you know what to expect, ways we diagnose liver cancer and treatment options available for the most advanced and effective care.
Liver cancer begins with cells in your lungs, a football sized muscle located in the upper right side of your abdomen. There are different types of liver cancer, the most common being hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
- Loss of appetite
- Upper abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sudden loss of weight without trying
- Weakness and fatigue
- Abdominal swelling
It’s important to make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any concerning signs or symptoms.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is the most common type of liver cancer, and is much more prevalent in men than women
- Race and ethnicity
In the United States, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of liver cancer, followed by Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, African Americans and whites
- Chronic viral hepatitis
Inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) or certain drugs. These infections lead to cirrhosis, or severe scarring of the liver, which makes it hard for the liver to function.
- Hereditary hemochromatosis
People with hereditary hemochromatosis absorb too much iron from their food. The iron settles in tissues throughout the body, including the liver. If enough iron builds up in the liver, it can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.
- Heavy alcohol use
- Type 2 diabetes
- Ultrasound is often the first test used to look at the liver. An ultrasound can show tumors growing in the liver, which can then be tested for cancer, if needed.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan gives specific information about the size, shape and location of any tumors in the liver or elsewhere in the abdomen, as well as nearby blood vessels. CT scans can also be used to guide a biopsy needle precisely into a suspected tumor (called a CT-guided needle biopsy). If you are diagnosed with liver cancer, a CT of your chest may also be done to look to see if cancer has spread to your lungs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can sometimes tell a non-cancerous (benign) tumor from a cancerous (malignant) one. They can also look at blood vessels in and around the liver to find blockages, and can help show if liver cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
- Angiography can be used to show the arteries that supply blood to a liver cancer, which helps your doctor decide if cancer can be removed and to help plan the operation. Angiography can also be used guide some types of non-surgical treatment, such as embolization. (anchor to embolization)
- Biopsy is the removal of a sample of tissue to see if it contains cancer.
Treatment and Therapies
The best option to cure liver cancer is with either surgical resection (complete removal of the tumor with surgery) a partial hepatectomy (surgery to remove part of the liver) or a liver transplant.
Surgery is only available for healthy people with good liver function and who have a single tumor that has not grown into blood vessels.
- Liver transplant
Liver transplants can be an option for those with tumors that cannot be removed with surgery, either because of the location of the tumors or because the liver has too much disease for the patient to tolerate removing part of it. A transplant is used to treat patients with small tumors (either one tumor smaller than 5 cm across or two to three tumors no larger than 3 cm) that have not grown into nearby blood vessels. It’s rarely an option for patients with cancers that can be removed completely. With a transplant, not only is the risk of a second new liver cancer greatly reduced, but the new liver will function normally.
- Embolization Therapy
Embolization is used to reduce or block blood flow to a tumor in the liver. Embolization is an option for some patients with tumors that cannot be removed with surgery.
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Therapy