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Liver Cancer

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.

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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.

Robert Martell, MD, PhD (Director of the Neely Center for Clinical Cancer Research and Leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program at Tufts Medical Center), discusses treatment options with patient during an appointment.
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At Tufts Medicine, we treat all types of cancers affecting the liver and nearby structures, including:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (the most common type of liver cancer)
  • Carcinoid tumors (neuroendocrine tumors of the gut)
  • Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma)
  • Metastatic cancers (cancers from another part of the body that spread to the liver)
  • Benign tumors and cysts like hepatic adenomas and hemangiomas

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:

Decreased appetite
Severe pain near the liver
Unexplained weight loss


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 you have been diagnosed with liver cancer, liver transplant surgery is a potential treatment plan to 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 a range of immunotherapy treatments to bring new hope to people with liver cancer who cannot undergo surgery.

Support services

We know how overwhelming a liver cancer diagnosis can be. That's why we pair leading-edge cancer treatment with support services that put your comfort and well-being first, like:

Anasuya Gunturi MD, PhD talks with patient at Lowell General Hospital's Women's Wellness Center clinic appointment.
Our locations

From regular office visits to inpatient stays, find the healthcare you need and deserve close to home.

Family physician Sarwada Tuladhar Jha, MD talking to patient during exam at a clinic appointment and inputting health information at the computer.
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Meet the doctors and care team devoted to supporting you every step of the way along your path to better health.

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