Liver Cancer

Liver Cancer

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Duke’s liver cancer specialists use the latest medical and surgical advances to find and treat primary liver cancer at the earliest possible stage. We are also expertly equipped to identify and treat metastatic liver cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to the liver from another part of the body. We offer personalized treatment options designed to meet your needs and improve your quality of life.

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The Best Care for Liver Cancer

We offer a range of medical, radiation, and surgical options to treat liver cancer, whether it is primary liver cancer -- meaning it started in the liver -- or secondary liver cancer, which started elsewhere in the body and spread to the liver. Our doctors and surgeons have advanced training in gastrointestinal cancers and the experience needed to aggressively treat liver cancer. Our skilled, experienced surgeons use small surgical incisions 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.

You may be at increased risk for primary liver cancer if you have a chronic liver disease such as cirrhosis or viral hepatitis. We work closely with your doctors to manage your liver disease, using advanced imaging techniques to detect all types of liver cancer at the earliest possible stage. If your liver cancer progresses to the point where a liver transplant becomes necessary, we have one of the best liver transplant programs in the country.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Treatments

Surgery

When primary liver cancer is present, a partial hepatectomy removes the diseased portion of the liver and leaves enough liver behind for it to continue to function. When possible, we use small incisions to perform this complex procedure laparoscopically. This minimizes your pain and scarring and shortens your recovery time.

Liver Transplant

Removes your liver  and replaces it with a healthy liver from a donor.

Embolization

Injects tiny particles through a catheter to block or reduce blood flow to the cancerous tumor in the liver. This method is sometimes used for pancreatic tumors that have spread to the liver.

Chemotherapy

Kills cancer cells or stops them from growing. Chemotherapy may be infused directly to the liver, called hepatic artery infusion, or through chemoembolization, which delivers chemotherapy through a catheter threaded into the artery that feeds blood to the liver.

Radiation Therapy

High-energy rays are used to shrink tumors, kill remaining cancer cells after surgery, and relieve liver cancer symptoms and pain.

Radiofrequency Ablation

Radio waves heat and burn liver cancer cells away. Used to treat small primary liver tumors that are inoperable because of underlying liver disease. This technique may also be used to manage pain and discomfort from liver cancer.

Microwave Therapy

High-energy microwaves are used to treat a single, isolated tumor that has spread to the liver from a primary tumor in another organ.

Percutaneous Alcohol Injection

Alcohol is injected into your tumor to kill cancer cells.

Targeted Therapy

Slows tumor growth in select liver cancer patients by blocking biological pathways; blocks proteins that help form blood vessels that feed the tumor. Targeted therapy also pinpoints genetic changes and proteins in cells that cause cancer and kills those cells.

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Tests

Blood Tests

Detect liver cancer and measure how well your liver is functioning.

Imaging Tests

CT, MRI, and PET scans; ultrasound; and angiograms are used to show structures and blood vessels in your liver.

Biopsy

A tissue sample is removed from your liver for examination under a microscope to detect cancerous cells.

Among the Best Cancer Hospitals in U.S.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital's cancer program is ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

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.

Liver Imaging Specialists
We use the most advanced technologies to recommend the best treatment. Our abdominal imaging radiologists have special expertise in liver imaging. We offer wider and shorter MRI machines so you will be more comfortable during imaging, and our CT scans are completed with the highest quality imaging and a lower radiation dose than many centers use.

Large Liver Transplant Program
Duke's liver transplant program is one of the largest in the Southeast and the best in North Carolina. We maintain outstanding survival rates for people who need a liver transplant.

A Team of Specialists
Our gastrointestinal specialists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, and radiologists work together to ensure you receive the best liver cancer care and latest treatment options.

Your Care in One Setting
We value your time and are committed to providing efficient services. You will see many specialists during your appointment so you have the information you need to make informed decisions about your care.

Access to Clinical Trials
You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials, which test new anti-cancer targeted therapies before they become available elsewhere.

Support for You
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.

Patient Resources