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Liver Cancer

Your liver processes nutrients from the food you eat and helps remove harmful toxins from your blood.

Sometimes, cells in the liver grow in ways that aren't normal. These cells may be cancer.

Our liver experts treat all liver conditions, including liver cancer, with tailored treatment plans. We're with you each step of the way, offering advanced treatments to improve your health.

Contact the UPMC Center for Liver Care

To make an appointment with a UPMC hepatologist, call 412-647-1170 or fill out the UPMC Center for Liver Care contact form.

What Is Liver Cancer?

Some types of abnormal cell growth start in the liver. These are primary liver cancers.

Other cancer types begin somewhere else in the body and spread to the liver. These are secondary liver cancers.

Liver cancer causes

Certain risk factors can increase your chances of liver cancer.

Risk factors include:

Types of Liver Cancer We Treat

At the Center for Liver Diseases, we treat all forms of liver cancer, including:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma: This primary cancer of the liver is the most common liver cancer.
  • Cholangiocarcinoma: This rare cancer forms in the bile ducts — the tubes that move bile between the liver, gallbladder, and small intestines. When cancer forms in the ducts inside the liver, it is intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. When it forms in the ducts outside the liver, it is extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.

Some liver tumors are benign, or noncancerous.

Sometimes, doctors remove these growths if there's a risk of bleeding or if they're not sure that the tumor isn't cancer.

Benign tumors we treat include:

  • Hemangioma: Tumors form when blood vessels bundle together, causing a mass. They commonly don't need treatment unless they cause symptoms or start to bleed.
  • Adenoma: Tumors form when liver cells grow in ways that aren't normal. They're benign, but there is some risk that they could turn into cancer.
  • Focal nodular hyperplasia: Growths form when varied types of liver cells grow together. They're most often benign but doctors can mistake them for cancer.

Treatment for Liver Cancer

We treat all types of liver cancer. Our doctors work with you to design the right treatment plan for your needs.

Experts from the Center for Liver Diseases partner with the UPMC Liver Cancer Center and Liver Transplant Program to support your recovery.

Medical treatments for liver cancer

Doctors treat some types of liver cancer with nonsurgical options, such as:

  • Medicine: We use certain drugs to treat cancers of the liver. These include chemo medications, which destroy cancer cells. Doctors may also use immunotherapy drugs, which help the immune system fight cancer, and targeted therapy, drugs that find and attack cancer.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: Doctors use radio waves to kill cancer cells and destroy liver tumors. They apply these radio waves with needles inserted into tumors, either through the skin or through a small incision in the belly.
  • Trans-arterial chemoembolization: Surgeons insert a flexible tube, or catheter, into the leg. They then guide the tube into the hepatic artery, the short blood vessel that supplies blood to the liver. Lastly, they inject chemo into the artery, followed by a substance to block blood flow to the tumor to help shrink it.

Surgery to treat liver cancer

We use surgery to treat certain liver cancers and liver conditions.

These include:

  • Partial hepatectomy: Surgeons remove the cancerous or damaged part of the liver and some surrounding tissue. They leave the healthy part of your liver intact.
  • Liver transplant: Doctors remove the entire liver. They replace the cancerous liver with a healthy liver from a donor.

Why Choose UPMC for Liver Cancer?

Make an Appointment at the UPMC Center for Liver Care 

To make an appointment with a UPMC hepatologist, call 412-647-1170 or fill out the UPMC Center for Liver Care contact form.