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Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is a cancer of the digestive system that forms in the body’s largest internal organ. The liver breaks down and stores many of the nutrients absorbed from the intestine that your body needs to function. It also breaks down alcohol, drugs and toxic wastes in the blood that are then excreted from the body.

Primary liver cancer originates in the liver; however, most cancers in the liver have started elsewhere but have spread—known as secondary or metastatic liver cancer. The most common risk factor for liver cancer is chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). Other factors, such as genetics, alcohol and tobacco use, obesity and Type 2 diabetes can lead to liver cancer.

Testing may be recommended for people who are at higher risk, but there currently is no screening for someone with average risk of liver cancer

  • Who Should Be Screened?

    People with cirrhosis of the liver, usually caused by heavy alcohol consumption, hepatitis or fatty liver disease.
  • How are People Screened?

    Ultrasound of the liver and blood tests.
  • What are the Risk Factors?

    • Unsafe injections
    • High-risk sexual behavior
    • Unregulated tattoos
    • Blood transfusions before 1992

Surgical Solutions for Benign and Malignant Liver Tumors

Our Board Certified surgeons are trained in many minimally invasive and open procedures that can help people recover from the conditions listed above, including:

  • Hepatic resection (partial hepatectomy): During this procedure, a surgeon removes up to two-thirds of the liver, depending on the extent of the disease.
  • Nonanatomic wedge resection: Instead of removing an entire section of the liver, this technique removes a small portion containing the tumor and some surrounding tissue.
  • Lobectomy: The liver is made of a left and right lobe. During a lobectomy, a surgeon removes one of these lobes.
  • Microwave ablation (MWA): Using an imaging device, a surgeon places a needle into a tumor. Microwaves travel from the needle, heating a small, precise area. The heat from the microwaves neutralizes the cancer cells. This minimally invasive procedure is useful for small tumors or people with reduced liver function.

More Resources for Liver Cancer Education: