Liver Tumors – Our Treatment Options

Liver Tumors: Detection & Treatment Options

If you have symptoms of liver cancer, the first step is a physical exam. The doctor will:

  • Feel your abdomen to examine the liver, spleen and nearby organs
  • Check your abdomen for ascites, an abnormal accumulation of fluid
  • Examine your skin and eyes for signs of jaundice If the doctor suspects liver cancer, you may have one or more of the following tests to diagnose it and find out if it has spread.

Blood tests: One common blood test detects alpha­fetoprotein (AFP), which can be a sign of liver cancer. Other blood tests may measure how well the liver is working.

Imaging tests, which may include:

  • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans: This is usually the most reliable test for evaluating the extent of liver cancer. Our technology includes the precise triple­phase CT scan.
  • Ultrasound
  • Angiogram: The doctor injects dye into an artery. This allows the blood vessels in the liver to be seen on an X­ray.

Biopsy:A sample of tissue from the tumor or the healthy part of the liver is removed and looked at under a microscope. Healthy tissue may be tested to see how well the liver is working. A biopsy may be obtained by:

  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA): A thin needle is inserted into the liver to remove a small amount of tissue.
  • Core biopsy: This is similar to FNA, but a thicker needle is used to remove small cylinder­shaped samples (cores).
  • Laparoscopy: A small incision (cut) is made in the abdomen, and a thin, lighted tube (laparoscope) is inserted to view the tumor.
  • Surgical biopsy: Tissue is removed during an operation.

General treatment information

In cancer care, different types of doctors often work together to create a patient’s overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. Cancer care teams also include a variety of other health care professionals, including physician assistants, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dietitians, and others.

Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors:

  • How much of the liver the cancer is affecting
  • Whether the cancer has spread
  • The patient’s preferences and overall health
  • The damage to the remaining cancer­free area of the liver

When a tumor is found at an early stage and the patient’s liver is working well, treatment is aimed at trying to eliminate the cancer. The care plan may also include treatment for symptoms and side effects, an important part of cancer care. When liver cancer is found at a later stage, or the patient’s liver is not working well, the patient and doctor should talk about the goals of each treatment recommendation. At this point, the goals of treatment may focus on slowing growth of the cancer and relieving symptoms to improve quality of life.

The various disease­directed treatment options can be grouped according to whether they may cure the cancer or will improve survival but will most likely not eliminate the cancer. Descriptions of the most common treatment options, both disease­directed and those aimed at managing side effects and symptoms, are listed below. Take time to learn about your treatment options and be sure to ask questions about things that are unclear. Also, talk about the goals of each treatment with your doctor and what you can expect while receiving the treatment. Learn more about making treatment decisions.

The main treatments for stomach cancer are:

  • Surgery
  • Disease­directed treatments
  • Targeted therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy

Often the best approach uses 2 or more of these treatment methods.

Learn How CyberKnife Can Treat Liver Cancer