Some high-risk patients may get regular blood tests and ultrasounds to see whether tumors are developing.
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).
Radiation treatments in the area of the cancer may also be helpful. But many patients have liver cirrhosis or other liver diseases that make these treatments more difficult.
Ablation is another method that may be used. (Ablate means to destroy.) Types of ablation include using:
Radio waves or microwaves
Ethanol (an alcohol) or acetic acid (vinegar)
Extreme cold (cryoablation)
A liver transplant may be recommended for certain persons who have both cancer and cirrhosis.
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 cannot be completely removed, the disease is usually fatal within 3 to 6 months. 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 health care provider if you develop ongoing abdominal pain, especially if you have a history of any liver disease.
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.
Persons with certain types of hemochromatosis may need to be screened for liver cancer.
Persons who have hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis may be recommended for liver cancer screening.
National Cancer Institute: PDQ Adult Primary Liver Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified 09/20/2013. Accessed September 24, 2013.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Hepatobiliary Cancers. Version 2.2013. Accessed September 24, 2013.
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, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.