Liver, or hepatocellular cancer, is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the liver, one of the largest organs in the body. The liver filters harmful substances from the blood, digests fats from food and stores the sugar that your body uses for energy. Primary liver cancer starts in the liver. Metastatic liver cancer starts elsewhere in the body and spreads to the liver.

Hepatocellular carcinoma accounts for most liver cancers. It occurs more often in men than women, and is usually seen in people age 50 or older.

Causes of Liver Cancer

The cause of liver cancer is usually cirrhosis of the liver, which may be caused by:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Autoimmune diseases of the liver
  • Hepatitis B or C virus infection
  • Chronic inflammation of the liver
  • Iron overload in the body (hemochromatosis)
  • Low body weight at birth

People with hepatitis B or C are at risk for liver cancer, even if they have not developed cirrhosis.

Staging of Liver Cancer

If your doctor learns that you do have cancer, more tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called staging. CT or MRI scans of the abdomen, pelvic area, chest, or brain may be used to stage the cancer. Sometimes, PET scans are also used. Blood tests to detect tumor markers, including carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and CA 19-9, may help your physician follow you during and after liver cancer treatment.

Treatment for Liver Cancer

Surgery for Liver Cancer Treatment

Aggressive surgery can successfully treat small or slow growing tumors if they are diagnosed early.

Surgery may include hepatic resection, a procedure in which part of all of the liver is removed, or hepatic artery ligation or embolization, a procedure to tie off or embolize the hepatic artery, the main blood vessel supplying blood to the liver.

Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy

Chemotherapy delivered directly into the liver with a catheter can help, but will not cure the disease. Radiation treatments in the area of the tumor may also be helpful. These liver cancer treatments are more difficult in patients who have liver cirrhosis or other liver diseases.

Liver Transplant in Houston

The Texas Liver Center team pursues liver transplant aggressively in patients who have failed medical treatment, including high-risk cases.

Certified as a United Network for Organ Sharing transplant center, the overall program reports outcomes in patient and graft survival that exceed national benchmarks. We partner with referring physicians in the care of these patients and provide regular updates as they are evaluated for transplant, listed and transplanted.

Learn More About Memorial Hermann Transplant Center »

Why Choose Memorial Hermann for Treatment?

Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers are accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ (ACoS) Commission on Cancer (CoC). This rare distinction is given to cancer programs that uphold the highest standard of care for patients. When you choose Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers for your cancer treatment, you can rest assured you will receive the best possible care delivered by a compassionate team of caregivers in a calm, healing environment.

Contact Us

For more information about Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers, including how to get connected to our support services or an affiliated provider, please call (833) 770-7771 or fill out the form below to be connected to one of our Oncology Nurse Navigators.


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