Some people who have a high chance of developing liver cancer may get regular blood tests and ultrasounds to see whether tumors are developing.
To accurately diagnose hepatocellular carcinoma, a biopsy of the tumor must be done.
Treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is.
Surgery may be done if the tumor has not spread. Before surgery, the tumor may be treated with chemotherapy to reduce its size. This is done by delivering the medicine straight into the liver with a tube (catheter) or by giving it intravenously (by IV).
If the cancer can't be surgically removed or has spread outside the liver, there is usually no chance for long-term cure. Treatment instead focuses on improving and extending the person's life. Treatment in this case may use targeted therapy with drugs that can be taken as pills. Newer immunotherapy drugs may also be used.
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.
If the cancer can't be completely treated, the disease is usually fatal. But survival can vary, depending on how advanced the cancer is when diagnosed and how successful treatment is.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you develop ongoing abdominal pain, especially if you have a history of liver disease.
Preventive measures include:
Preventing and treating viral hepatitis may help reduce your risk. Childhood vaccination against hepatitis B may reduce the risk of liver cancer in the future.
Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
People with certain types of hemochromatosis (iron overload) may need to be screened for liver cancer.
People who have hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis may be recommended for liver cancer screening.
Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.