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Metastatic Colon Cancer to the Liver

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Metastatic Colon Cancer Overview

In the United States, 140,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed each year, making it one of the most frequently encountered cancers.

In approximately 60 percent of people in the U.S. diagnosed with colon cancer, the cancer will eventually spread to the liver (liver metastases), making metastatic colon cancer 10 to 20 times more common than primary liver cancers , such as:

Diagnosing Metastatic Colon Cancer

Metastatic colon cancer to the liver is usually identified in people with a prior history of primary colon cancer who are found to have an abnormal mass in the liver during surveilla nce screening.

Mestastasis to the liver can also be present at the time of colon cancer diagnosis.

Testing for Metastatic Colon Cancer

The following tests may detect the mass in your liver:

Imaging Studies

  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • Liver biopsy is the removal of a sample of tissue for testing to confirm that the mass represents metastatic colon cancer.

Metastatic Colon Cancer Treatment

The UPMC Liver Cancer Center offers several treatment options for people with metastatic colon cancer tumors in the liver.

Liver surgery (resection)

Depending on the size and location of your tumor, and the general health of your liver, you may be a candidate for surgical removal of the tumor(s).

Surgery, either minimally invasive (laparoscopic) liver surgery or traditional (open) liver surgery, offers the best chance for cure or long-term survival.

UPMC’s liver surgeons are among the most experienced in the United States at minimally invasive liver surgery, which is performed through three or four small incisions in the abdomen. We perform this technique whenever possible to reduce pain, scarring, and recovery time.

Liver surgery and radiofrequency ablation

Occasionally, a large tumor in one lobe of the liver can be surgically removed, and a smaller tumor in the remaining lobe can be treated by thermal destruction with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) during the same operation.

Therapies for liver tumors

If your tumor is too large to be removed by surgery, the UPMC Liver Cancer Center offers innovative therapies to help shrink the tumor so surgery is possible, or to manage you r liver disease and extend your life.

Additional therapies include:

Clinical Trials

For unresectable colon cancer metastases confined to the liver, the UPMC Liver Cancer Center just completed a gene therapy clinical trial in which a novel virus was injected into the liver, followed by regional chemotherapy to enhance the tumor destruction. A follow-up protocol is being planned.

» Read more about the UPMC Liver Cancer Center's clinical research trials.

Learn more about liver cancer treatments at the UPMC Liver Cancer Center.

Contact the UPMC Liver Cancer Center

To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, toll-free, at 1-855-745-4837.


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