All cancers begin in the cells of the affected organs of the body. Primary liver cancer begins in the cells of the liver while metastasized liver cancer is cancer that has spread to the liver from another part of the body such as the colon.
Not all tumors in the liver are cancerous. Some tumors are benign and these are seldom life threatening. These benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body or damage healthy tissue. They are usually removed surgically and seldom grow back after removal.
The Beverly Hills Cancer Center is proud to be on the forefront of liver cancer treatment, offering Los Angeles residents access to an integrated team of cancer professionals and supporting medical staff.
Types of Liver Cancer
About 80% of liver cancer forms in the main liver cells (hepatocytes) and is called hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC.
The next most common liver cancer starts in the small tubes or ducts that deliver bile to the small intestine. It is called cholangiocarcinoma or bile duct cancer.
There is a very rare form of liver cancer that begins in the cells lining the liver’s blood vessels called angiosaracoma. This type of cancer accounts for about 1 % of liver cancer.
Signs & Symptoms of Liver Cancer
Liver cancer does not usually present detectable symptoms in the early stages of the disease. As the disease progresses, liver function becomes impacted by pressure or obstructions caused by growing tumors. Some of the symptoms that are associated with liver cancer are:
- Unexpected weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain in the upper area
- Abdominal swelling
- Weakness and fatigue
- Developing jaundice (yellow discoloration) in the skin or white of the eyes
- White stools
Diagnosing liver cancer
There are many procedures used by the diagnostic team at the Beverly Hills Cancer Center to accurately diagnose liver cancer. Treatment at the Los Angeles location is tailored to the type of liver cancer, the size of the tumor or tumors, the location of the tumors and the overall health of the patient.
The tests can include blood tests, imaging scans such as ultrasound, CT or MRI or a biopsy. The tissue sample removed during the biopsy is examined by a pathologist to determine whether or not there is cancer present and if so, which type of liver cell is involved.
After a positive diagnosis is made, the next step in liver cancer treatment is to stage the cancer. Staging is a standardized method of determining the size and location of the cancer. An important part of staging is discovering if the cancer has spread and whether it is affecting liver function. There are several tests and scans used to stage liver cancer. Once all testing is complete, a comprehensive and aggressive treatment plan is developed to provide outstanding liver cancer treatment at our Los Angeles facility.
Staging Liver Cancer
There are four stages of liver cancer used to determine treatment methods:
Very early stage – tumor is less than 2 cm, no increased pressure on the two main veins in the liver.
Early stage - tumor is less than 5 cm, liver function may or may not be affected.
Intermediate stage – tumor over 5 cm or several tumors present.
Advanced stage – tumor has spread to other parts of the body.
Liver Cancer Treatment Los Angeles
Treatment depends on several factors including the stage that the cancer is in, the age and general health of the patient and most important, the wishes of the patient. Options for liver cancer treatment in Los Angeles include:
- Liver transplant
- Targeted drug therapy
- Heating or freezing cancer cells
Removing a portion of the liver is possible where the tumor is small and liver function hasn’t been compromised. This is called a partial hepatectomy. Position of the tumor will have a bearing on whether surgery is an option.
This option is limited to a small percentage of patients with early stage liver cancer. Patients must wait for a healthy liver from a deceased donor. When a donor liver becomes available, the cancer may have progressed beyond the point where a transplant is an option. Another form of liver transplant is living related transplant where a segment of a living blood related donor’s liver is transplanted.
Chemotherapy drugs are injected into the artery that supplies the tumor with blood and then the artery is blocked. This approach has a two-fold effect on the tumor by blocking blood supply and targeting cancer-fighting drugs at the tumor.
High-powered energy beams are directed at the cancer cells, effectively shrinking them. Another method is to simultaneously focus multiple beams of radiation at the tumor.
Targeted Drug Therapy
This is a specialized form of drug therapy that prevents the tumor from creating new blood vessels. It is effective in slowing the growth of tumors.
Heating or Freezing Cancer Cells
Using ultrasound, an instrument containing liquid nitrogen is directed onto the tumor, freezing and killing the cells. Heating cancer cells uses radiofrequency energy to heat and kill the cells. As with freezing, ultrasound is used to direct the precise placement of a thin needle, which is then heated with electricity, effectively killing the cells.
Beverly Hills Cancer Center: Comprehensive Targeted Cancer Treatment
Liver cancer is a complex disease requiring expert diagnosis and treatment. At the Beverly Hills Cancer Center, the latest advances in cancer treatment are used in combination with tried and true therapies. Our patients receive focused, aggressive treatment plans designed by a team of cancer treatment professionals. We are proud to help patients through this difficult time by remaining at the pinnacle of the latest liver cancer treatment options in Los Angeles.
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Your health is important, and we welcome the opportunity to help you heal.
To schedule an appointment, please call Beverly Hills Cancer Center in Beverly Hills, California at (877) 320-5131 or use our interactive Online Appointment Request Form.