Duke medical and surgical oncologists specialize in the treatment of primary liver cancer, which starts in the liver, as well as secondary liver cancer-- also known as metastatic liver cancer -- which spreads to the liver from cancer that started elsewhere in the body. We use the latest medical and surgical approaches, interventional radiology procedures, and radiation therapies to aggressively treat these cancers. We also offer advanced techniques that are only available in a handful of cancer hospitals across the country.
What is Liver Cancer?
Primary Liver Cancer
Cancer that starts in the liver is known as primary liver cancer; the most common type is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); the less common type is cholangiocarcinoma (also known as bile duct cancer). Primary liver cancer often occurs in people who have chronic liver diseases, such as cirrhosis. It can be treated effectively if caught early.
Metastatic Liver Cancer
Metastatic liver cancer starts as primary cancer elsewhere in the body -- most frequently as colorectal cancer -- and spreads to the liver. While metastatic liver cancer is infrequently cured, treatment can control your symptoms and prolong survival.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Diagnosing Liver Cancer
Your doctor may recommend these tests be performed to confirm your diagnosis and determine the size, location, type, and stage of your liver cancer.
Blood tests look for the presence of liver enzymes and proteins which indicate the presence of liver cancer. Blood tests also measure how well your liver is functioning.
A combination of CT, MRI, PET scans and ultrasound may be performed to look at the size and location of the tumor. While you may have undergone these tests before coming to Duke, it is common for your Duke doctor to repeat these scans to personalize your treatment recommendation.
While some liver tumors have characteristics that can be seen on scans that are sufficient for making a diagnosis, a biopsy may be necessary to confirm your diagnosis. During this procedure, a tissue sample is removed from your liver, most commonly using a needle guided by live CT or ultrasound. The tissue sample is examined under a microscope to detect cancerous cells and confirm diagnoses that are in question.
Why Choose Duke
Nationally Ranked Cancer Program
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are recognized for exploring new treatment opportunities through ongoing clinical trials. We offer you the latest research discoveries before they are available elsewhere. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving care for our patients.
Highly Skilled Medical and Surgical Oncologists
Our skilled, experienced medical and surgical oncologists use a personalized approach to treat your cancer, It may include small incisions and robotic technology to remove diseased portions of the liver during complex operations. Our experience is evidenced by the number of surgical procedures we perform each year, and by the successful outcomes we achieve.
Experienced with Hepatic Arterial Infusion
Our medical and surgical oncologists are among the few U.S. doctors with the training and expertise needed to offer hepatic arterial infusion, or HAI. The chemotherapy infusion pump can prolong survival in people with liver metastases and primary liver cancer.
Large Liver Transplant Program
If your type of primary liver cancer progresses to the point where a liver transplant may be an option, we have one of the best and highest volume liver transplant programs in the country. We maintain outstanding survival rates for people who need a liver transplant.
Lower Radiation Imaging Options
We offer wider and shorter MRI machines so you will be more comfortable during imaging. Our CT scans are equipped with the highest quality imaging and require a lower radiation dose, which minimizes your exposure to radiation. Our abdominal imaging radiologists have special expertise in liver imaging.
Access to Clinical Trials
You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials, which test new therapies before they become available elsewhere.
Your Care in One Setting
We value your time and are committed to providing efficient services. You will see many specialists for evaluation during your appointment so you have the personalized recommendations and information you need to make informed decisions about your care.
Support for You and Your Loved Ones
Our comprehensive cancer support services range from helping you minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.