Liver Cancer

Primary liver cancer forms in the tissues of the liver. Secondary liver cancer is cancer that spreads to the liver from another part of the body. Most primary liver cancers begin in hepatocytes (liver cells). This type of cancer is called hepatocellular carcinoma or malignant hepatoma. Liver cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor. They mainly spread by entering blood vessels, but liver cancer cells can also be found in lymph nodes. The cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.

 

Staging of Liver Cancer

 

Stage I: In stage I, there is one tumor and it has not spread to nearby blood vessels

Stage II: In stage II, one of the following is found:

  • one tumor that has spread to nearby blood vessels; or
  • more than one tumor, none of which is larger than 5 centimeters.

Stage III: Stage III is divided into Stage IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC.

 

  • In stage IIIA, one of the following is found:
    • more than one tumor larger than 5 centimeters; or
    • one tumor that has spread to a major branch of blood vessels near the liver.
  • In stage IIIB, there are one or more tumors of any size that have either:
    • spread to nearby organs other than the gallbladder; or
    • broken through the lining of the peritoneal cavity.
    • In stage IIIC, the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IV: In stage IV, cancer has spread beyond the liver to other places in the body, such as the bones or lungs. The tumors may be of any size and may also have spread to nearby blood vessels and/or lymph nodes.

 

Treatment: of Liver Cancer

 

Localized Resectable Adult Primary Liver Cancer

Treatment of localized resectable adult primary liver cancer may include the following:

  • Surgery (partial hepatectomy).
  • Surgery (total hepatectomy) and liver transplant.
  • A clinical trial of regional or systemic chemotherapy or biologic therapy following surgery.

Localized and Locally Advanced Unresectable Adult Primary Liver Cancer

Treatment of localized and locally advanced unresectable adult primary liver cancer may include the following:

  • Surgery (cryosurgery or radiofrequency ablation).
  • Chemotherapy (chemoembolization, regional chemotherapy, or systemic chemotherapy).
  • Percutaneous ethanol injection.
  • Surgery (total hepatectomy) and liver transplant.
  • Radiation therapy with radiosensitizers.
  • A clinical trial of a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Hyperthermia therapy may also be used. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumor before surgery.

Advanced Adult Primary Liver Cancer

There is no standard treatment for advanced adult primary liver cancer. Patients may consider taking part in a clinical trial. Treatment may be a clinical trial of biologic therapy, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy with or without radiosensitizers. These treatments may be given as palliative therapy to help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.

Recurrent Adult Primary Liver Cancer

Treatment of recurrent adult primary liver cancer may include the following:

  • Surgery (partial hepatectomy).
  • Surgery (total hepatectomy) and liver transplant.
  • Chemotherapy (chemoembolization or systemic chemotherapy).
  • Percutaneous ethanol injection.
  • A clinical trial of a new therapy.

Search for clinical trials in Georgia.

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's PDQ Database: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/liver. (Accessed July 2016)