Liver cancer is a type of cancer that affects the liver, a football-sized organ on the right side of your abdomen. It’s also one of the most common types of cancer. We’ll meet you where you are with advanced treatments — embolization, immunotherapy and transplant surgery — to fast-track your path to wellness.
Cancer care that's as adaptable as the liver
The liver is one of the most versatile and vital organs in the body, responsible for more than 500 bodily functions. It acts like an air purifier by filtering, cleaning and re-circulating all blood. It even teams up with the gallbladder to create and deliver bile to the stomach, which helps break down fats.
When cancer throws off the liver's healthy rhythm, it can have serious effects on your health. You can rest assured that your Tufts Medicine team will use the latest therapies — like an immunotherapy drug that trains your immune system to fight cancerous tumors all by itself — to get your health back on track.
The most common type of liver cancer is called hepatocellular carcinoma. It accounts for about 75% of all liver cancer cases, and it’s most often caused by hepatitis B, hepatitis C or alcohol abuse.
In addition to hepatocellular carcinoma, we treat all types of cancers affecting the liver and nearby structures, including:
- Benign tumors and cysts like hepatic adenomas and hemangiomas
- Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma)
- Carcinoid tumors (neuroendocrine tumors of the gut)
- Metastatic cancers (cancers from another part of the body that spread to the liver)
Liver cancer symptoms
Liver cancer is at its most treatable stage when discovered early on. However, liver cancer signs and symptoms may not become noticeable until the disease becomes more advanced.
If you notice one or more of these liver cancer symptoms, talk with your doctor as soon as possible:
While there isn't a single screening test that can alert you to a possible liver cancer diagnosis, there are steps you can take to stay ahead of your health. Talk with your doctor if you have a family history of liver cancer or other liver diseases. We can keep an eye on your risk level with routine blood tests.
We turn to the following imaging tests to better understand the root of your symptoms or to identify the location of a tumor:
Your health history and your lifestyle are uniquely you. Your liver cancer treatment path will be, too. We’ll work with you and your loved ones to find the right combination of therapies that best meets your needs.
Minimally invasive surgery
Small incisions can have a big impact. Our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive liver resections, where we remove the diseased portion of the liver through an opening as small as the tip of your finger. What does that mean for you?
- Less blood loss
- Lower risk of infection
- More comfortable quality of life
- Quicker recovery times
Other minimally invasive procedures we use to remove or destroy liver tumors include:
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): A strategy that uses heat to melt away tumors.
- Cryosurgery: A technique that destroys cancer cells by quickly freezing and thawing cancerous tissue.
- Chemoembolization and radioembolization: The process of delivering anti-cancer drugs directly to a tumor, cutting off its blood supply.
Liver transplant surgery
If your liver can no longer perform its most essential functions, liver transplant surgery can give you back the quality of life you expect and deserve. Organ transplants don't take a one-size-fits-all approach because your treatment plan will depend on several important factors like:
- How the organ is donated
- Stage of your condition
- Type of organ transplant your body needs
Immunotherapy medication lends a helping hand to your immune system, allowing it to better recognize and attack cancerous cells.
We’re proud to offer OPDIVO® (nivolumab), the first immunotherapy approved for liver cancer. This life-changing breakthrough can bring new hope to people with liver cancer who cannot undergo surgery.
We know how overwhelming a liver cancer diagnosis can be. That's why we pair leading-edge cancer treatment with support services that puts your comfort and well-being first, like: