Liver cancer happens when normal cells in the liver change into abnormal cells and grow out of control. The large size of the liver and the amount of blood that flows through the organ makes it a prime target for tumor cells. Since all the blood in the body must pass through it, the liver is unusually accessible to cancer cells traveling in the bloodstream. This means that liver cancer is one of the most common metastatic (spreading) cancers. If you have concerns, you can trust us for education, early detection and screening, what to expect and next steps after a diagnosis.
When you’re diagnosed, every day counts. If you are diagnosed with liver cancer, we’ll help you review and understand your options so you can quickly move to treatment.
Liver cancer detection and diagnosis
Liver cancer does not usually cause any symptoms of its own. You might have a lump or mild pain in the upper belly, or feel full early on when you try to eat.
You may have symptoms that are caused by the liver disease you had before your cancer diagnosis. Those symptoms can get worse or come back because of the cancer. They include swelling of the belly or legs and the skin or white part of the eyes turning yellow (called jaundice).
In order to confirm a cancer diagnosis, your doctor may do one or more tests such as:
- Blood - A blood test can be used to see if your liver is functioning correctly.
- Imaging - This test will be used to look at your abdominal region to determine if your liver has any abnormal growths.
- Liver biopsy – A liver biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples from the liver are removed for examination under a microscope to look for signs of damage or disease. It is used to diagnose many liver conditions.
Read about our imaging services or listen to a podcast on liver biopsy.
Learn more about liver cancer and how it is diagnosed.
Innovative techniques and technologies offered
We target liver tumors with some of the most advanced treatments and technology available. In the hands of our experts, tools such as these can lead to optimal results and improved survival rates. Throughout our system, our advanced offerings include:
- da Vinci® robot – A robotic surgical system designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach. This system enables surgeons to make smaller, more precise movements with tiny instruments inside your body, which can help you heal more quickly.
- TrueBeam™– A medical device that delivers a radiation beam to target cancer while exposing healthy cells to minimal radiation. No incisions are made; the noninvasive device rotates around the patient, delivering the radiation dose from different angles.
You will need to call your local hospital to learn which of these options are available in your area.
Talking with healthcare providers about your liver cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. It helps to be prepared with questions to ask during your appointments.