Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer (cancer that originates in the liver).

The most common type of primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

  • The risk of HCC is higher in people with long-term liver diseases including cirrhosis from any cause, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or fatty liver disease caused by either alcohol or metabolic factors
  • The diagnosis of HCC is usually made by imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT, or MRI and tumor marker blood tests (alpha feto-protein). In some cases, a liver biopsy may be done to confirm the diagnosis of HCC
  • HCC is one of the most rapidly increasing causes of cancer in the United States

Treatment Options

Treatment will depend on the size and location of the HCC, liver function, and overall health. There are multiple ways of treating liver cancer, sometimes used in combination.

  • Surgery. Small tumors in patients whose liver disease is not advanced can some times be surgically removed. Surgery to remove the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue that surrounds it may be an option for people with early-stage liver cancers who have normal liver function
  • Liver transplant surgery. Surgery to remove the entire liver and replace it with a liver from a donor may be an option in otherwise healthy people whose liver cancer hasn’t spread beyond the liver
  • Destroying cancer cells with heat or cold. Ablation (complete eradication) procedures to kill the cancer cells in the liver using extreme heat or cold may be recommended for people who can’t undergo surgery and have small tumors. These procedures include radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation, and ablation using alcohol injection or microwave
  • Delivering chemotherapy or radiation directly to cancer cells. Using a catheter that is passed through your blood vessels and into your liver, doctors can deliver chemotherapy drugs (chemoembolization) or tiny glass spheres containing radiation (radioembolization) directly to the cancer cells to block off the artery feeding the tumor
  • Drug therapy. Both oral and intravenous drugs may help slow the progression of the disease in people with advanced liver cancer, especially in those cases where other therapies are not effective or stop working
  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy using energy from X-rays or protons may be recommended to shrink the tumors and slow the growth if surgery or other treatments are ineffective. A specialized type of radiation therapy, called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), involves focusing many beams of radiation simultaneously at one point in your body with great accuracy
  • Clinical trials. Clinical trials offer an opportunity to try new liver cancer treatments which are in development

Setup an Appointment with Arizona Liver Health

Call Arizona Liver Health at 480-470-4000 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced providers who can help diagnose your liver condition and put you on a path toward improved outcomes.