Liver Cancer

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At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, our team of experts treats liver cancer using the latest research, advanced technologies and supportive integrative care. Using a comprehensive team approach, Banner MD Anderson customizes your care to your unique needs. Our highly skilled physicians, nurses and staff provide excellent, compassionate medical care, educational resources and support before, during and after your treatment.

What Is Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the liver or other parts of the body.  A cancer that starts in the liver is called primary liver cancer. Metastatic liver cancer begins somewhere else in the body such as the colon, breast, lung, stomach or pancreas and spreads (metastasize) to the liver.

The liver is the largest organ in the body and its health is critical; life cannot be sustained without a functioning liver. Liver cancer destroys liver cells, making it impossible for the liver to work properly.

Located right below the ribs, the liver has many important functions:

  • Filters the blood to keep the body free of harmful substances
  • Produces bile for digestion
  • Nourishes the body by storing glucose
  • Converts nutrients into energy to help build and repair body tissues
  • Assists with blood clotting

Who Gets Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer is on the rise in the United States.  This increase is in part due to lifestyle behaviors that cause cirrhosis and liver scarring, such as drinking alcohol and obesity. Men are more than twice as likely as women to develop liver cancer over their lifetime. Worldwide, the most common risk factor for liver cancer is chronic (long-term) infection with the hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C (HBC) virus.   These infections lead to a high risk of developing cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis and liver cancer.

Who Treats Liver Cancer?

Specialized physicians who treat liver cancer include Hepatologists who focus on diseases of the liver and oncologists are doctors who are dedicated to treating cancer patients. At Banner MD Anderson, your care team includes some of the nation’s leading liver cancer experts, including experienced surgeons highly skilled in delicate liver surgery procedures.

In addition, liver cancer treatment at Banner MD Anderson includes our Integrative Oncology Program. Patients receive compassionate care helping with all aspects of their cancer care to improve quality of life.

Learn More about Liver Cancer

What Causes Liver Cancer?

The highest risk factors for developing liver cancer are chronic hepatitis B or C and cirrhosis from fatty liver disease and alcohol abuse.

Learn more about liver cancer causes, risk factors, and prevention.

What Are the Signs, Symptoms, and Types of Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer often doesn’t present symptoms in its early stages. In more advanced stages, liver cancer can be more difficult to treat. Signs of liver cancer may include jaundice, weight loss and pain/swelling in your stomach and legs. The most common type of liver cancer is primary liver cancer.

Learn more about Liver cancer signs, symptoms, and types.

How Is Liver Cancer Diagnosed?

Liver cancer is diagnosed using various tests and procedures.  A special blood test to measure levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) may be used to diagnose liver cancer as well as other blood tests to measure liver function.  Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT and MRI are also used to diagnosis liver cancer.  Removing a sample of liver tissue for testing may be required to make a definitive diagnosis of liver cancer.

Learn more about liver cancer tests, diagnosis, prognosis, and stages.

How Is Liver Cancer Treated?

The most common treatment for liver cancer is surgery to remove part or all of the affected liver tissue, as well as areas to which the cancer has spread. Other treatments include tumor ablation, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or targeted therapy and immunotherapy.  Patients may require a liver transplant.

Learn more about liver cancer treatment, side effects, and support.