Liver Tumor / Liver Cancer Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment Information
The University of Michigan has one of the nation's first and most respected multidisciplinary Liver Tumor Programs - providing patients with comprehensive care, and offering treatment options not available at most other medical centers in the country.Unlike other cancers which start in another part of the body and spread to the liver, primary liver cancer begins from cells inside the liver. The two most common forms are hepatocellular carcinoma (also called hepatoma or HCC), and cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). The good news is that many liver cancer tumors are very treatable with good odds for long, disease-free survival.
Who's at Risk for Liver Cancer?Risk factors for hepatoma include most forms of chronic liver disease such as:
- Chronic alcoholism
- Hepatitis B and C
- Fatty liver disease
Risk factors for bile duct cancer include chronic diseases of the bile ducts such as Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.
Symptoms of Liver CancerLiver cancer is sometimes found on an ultrasound screening, and is still asymptomatic. In other cases, patients develop abdominal pain and symptoms of liver dysfunction such as:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Weight loss
- Fluid accumulation/ swelling
Diagnosis of Liver CancerThe diagnosis of Liver Cancer begins with a good quality CT scan or MRI. Not all CT/MRI scans are the same - our radiology experts use the latest technology and techniques to obtain better images than most other centers, and specialize in looking at images of the liver. This allows us to make the diagnosis without biopsy 80% of the time.
In cases where biopsy is required, we use a special technique to avoid spreading the tumor.
Treatment of Liver CancerThere are many treatment options for liver cancer, and the list of choices can be confusing for patients and many physicians. At the University of Michigan's multidisciplinary Liver Tumor Program we have a dedicated Liver Tumor Board that meets weekly and includes a team of 8-10 experts in hepatology, surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and diagnostic and interventional radiology - which then prepares a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
Treatments offered at the University of Michigan include:
Surgery to remove the cancerous portion of the liver, which in some case can be done laparoscopically leaving only small scars.
We are one of a handful of centers nationwide to offer liver transplantation for Cholangiocarcinoma in addition to Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
A minimally invasive procedure where chemotherapy beads are injected directly into the tumor.
Injection of radioactive beads directly into the tumor.
A needle placed into the tumor uses radiofrequency waves to destroy tumor tissue, often without requiring surgery.
Also called radiosurgery or cyberknife, this technique uses a computer to concentrate radiation beams in precise locations.
We offer standard chemotherapy as well as access to many clinical trials unavailable elsewhere. Clinical trials offer hope to patients who have failed other treatments.
Global Pioneers in Radiation Therapy for Primary Liver TumorsWe have seen thousands of patients with liver tumors and actually developed the radiological (imaging) criteria to more accurately diagnose primary liver tumors (where the tumor originated). In fact, we have the largest funded research program in primary liver tumors in the U.S. and are worldwide pioneers in the radiation therapy for primary liver tumors.
Still have questions?The nurses at Cancer AnswerLine™ have answers. Call 1-800-865-1125 and you'll get a personal response from one of our registered nurses, who have years of experience in caring for people with cancer.