Liver Tumors – FAQs

Liver Tumors: FAQs

At Orange County CyberKnife, our mission is to help patients throughout the greater Orange County area beat cancer through world-class treatments – and if you’ve recently been diagnosed with liver cancer, we can help. As a leading cancer treatment provider in Orange County, we offer a variety of advanced radiation therapy treatments at our cancer center, including cutting-edge CyberKnife treatment. The first step, however, is education, and we’ve compiled a number of answers to common questions about liver cancer on this page.

Common Questions About Liver Cancer

Answer :

Your liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It’s located on the right side of the abdomen, behind the ribs and under the lung. The liver performs a variety of metabolic functions, one of the most important being to act as a filter for toxins in the body and help to break down nutrients into basic components that your cells can use. The liver is a vital organ and a person cannot live without their liver. It stores nutrients, creates bile for digestion, and breaks down toxins. When the liver isn’t functioning correctly, toxins can build up in the body and cause problems.

Answer :

Liver cancer refers to any cancerous tumor that forms in the cells of the liver. Liver cancer is relatively rare in the US and Europe, but more common in certain African and East Asian countries. Liver cancer is broken down into several subtypes depending on the type of cell it starts in. Some of the most common include:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (the most common form)
  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Hepatoblastoma
Answer :

Research has uncovered a number of risk factors for liver cancer, which increase the likelihood of any one person developing liver cancer. Some of the major risk factors for liver cancer include:

  • Alcohol Use: Heavy alcohol use (2 or more drinks per day) can cause cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis is a major risk factor for liver cancer, making alcohol use a predictor.
  • Hepatitis: Hepatitis can also cause liver cirrhosis, making it another risk factor.
  • Being Male: Men are more likely than women to get liver cancer, although this may be because men drink more than women on average.
Answer :

Unfortunately, liver cancer often does not show symptoms until reaching an advanced stage or until the tumor is large enough to push on areas of the liver or against other organs. However, if liver cancer does produce symptoms, they can include:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Decrease or loss of appetite
  • Feeling very full after eating only a small amount
  • Bloating or swelling in the stomach
  • A lump or mass on the right side of the abdomen
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever

If you’re worried you may have liver cancer – particularly if you have one or more risk factors – you should talk to your doctor for a diagnosis.

Answer :

Doctors use a variety of tests to detect and diagnose liver cancer, ranging from physical exams and medical history reviews to blood and imaging tests. Some of the most common tests for liver cancer include:

  • Physical examination of the abdomen
  • Review of personal and family medical history
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Liver biopsy
Answer :

A second opinion isn’t strictly necessary, but is almost always a good idea. Getting a second opinion is within your rights as a patient, and your insurance may cover the second opinion – in fact, many policies require a second opinion before getting treatment. Even if you feel comfortable with your initial diagnosis, a second opinion is a good precautionary step to ensure you’re getting the best treatment possible, and you should always feel comfortable getting one. You have many options available to you for seeking out a second opinion, including:

  • Ask your primary care doctor for a recommendation for a specialist. This may include a surgeon. radiation oncologist, hepatologist, medical oncologist, liver transplant surgeon, or interventional radiologist.
  • Call (800) 422-6237 (800 4-CANCER), the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service. They can connect you with cancer centers or programs to find a second opinion.
  • Check with your local university medical school, hospital, medical society, or support groups. They can connect you to local specialists who can provide a second opinion.

At OC CyberKnife, we’re also proud to provide second opinions – and as a premier provider of cutting-edge CyberKnife treatment, we may be able to treat cases other centers can’t. Contact us today if you’re interested in schedule a second opinion.

Answer :

As with all forms of cancer, the treatment options for liver cancer vary greatly from patient to patient. Your doctor will work with you to decide on the best treatment for your case, and may recommend any of the following:

  • Surgery: Surgery is one of the most effective treatments for liver cancer, but is only possible if the tumor is small and occupies only one section of the liver. Your doctor may recommend removing the part of the liver containing the cancer, or if possible, a complete liver transplant.
  • Ablation & Embolization: Ablation, which involves using extreme temperature or radiation to kill the tumor, and embolization, which involves injecting a substance into the tumor to cut off its blood supply, may also be used to treat liver cancer.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy treatments, such as CyberKnife, use high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and eliminate tumors. At OC CyberKnife, we specialize in radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses pharmaceutical drugs that target fast-growing cells, helping to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing. Chemotherapy targets the entire body, so it is often used when the cancer has metastasized (spread).
  • Targeted Therapy: This is similar to chemotherapy, but the medication uses a different function to target cancer cells. Generally, it’s more effective than chemo, but may not be feasible in all cases.
Answer :

In some cases, you may be able to participate in clinical trials of a new drug. This would provide you access to new, experimental drugs or treatments that have not hit the market yet. It isn’t always possible, but you should talk with your doctor to see if it might be an option for you.

Contact Your Orange County Radiation Oncology Center

Battling liver cancer is one of life’s most difficult challenges, but it’s never something you have to face alone. If you or someone you love have been diagnosed with liver cancer, don’t wait – call us today at 714.962.7100. We’ll help you create a treatment plan that works with your lifestyle, thrive through every stage of treatment, and reclaim the healthy, normal life you deserve.