Liver Cancer

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A diagnosis of liver cancer can leave you with a lot of questions. What should you do? Get a second opinion? What treatment will work best?

The treatment you need depends on many factors. Your liver health and cancer stage play a role. You'll tell us what feels right for you. Together, we'll figure out next steps. We'll make sure you get the care and support you need along the way.

Advanced Diagnostics & Treatments

Imaging scans help us find liver tumors. To get a detailed picture of your liver, we use:

  • X-ray
  • Angiogram
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Laparoscopy

These scans will help us see if we can do surgery. Only surgery cures liver cancer. We can either:

  • Remove part of the liver through surgery
  • Replace your liver with a liver transplant 

Sometimes, we can treat smaller tumors with ablation. Ablation doesn't remove tumors. It destroys them. We can do this by:

  • Freezing the tumors, called cryosurgery
  • Killing tumors with alcohol, or ethanol ablation

We can also kill tumor cells through embolization. In this procedure, we cut off the blood flow to cancer cells. 

Medications can't cure cancer in the liver. But they can ease symptoms. They include:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Sorafenib (Nexavar)
  • Biological therapy

Your Liver Cancer Risk

If you have chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, you're at risk for liver cancer. Get a liver ultrasound every 6 months. 

Several factors increase your risk of liver cancer. These include chronic hepatitis, heavy alcohol use and inherited metabolic disorders. You'll also need monitoring if you have colorectal or neuroendocrine cancer.

Worried about liver cancer? See a doctor if you have:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Excessive itchiness of the skin
  • Confusion and increased sleepiness
  • Yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eye

 

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.