Liver Tumor / Liver Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Information
Reaching a Diagnosis for Liver CancerThe diagnosis of liver cancer begins with a good quality CT scan or MRI. Not all CT/MRI scans are the same-our radiology experts use the latest technology and techniques to obtain better images, and specialize in looking at images of the liver. This allows us to make the diagnosis without biopsy 80% of the time.
In cases where biopsy is required, we use a special technique to avoid spreading the tumor.
Advanced, Personalized Treatment for Liver CancerThere are many treatment options for liver cancer, and the list of choices can be confusing for patients and many physicians. At the University of Michigan's multidisciplinary Liver Tumor Program we have a dedicated Liver Tumor Board that meets weekly and includes a team of experts in hepatology, surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and diagnostic and interventional radiology. This group then prepares a personalized treatment plan for each patient. In 2012, more than 290 patients with liver tumors or masses were evaluated and more than two-thirds of these patients had a diagnosis of liver cancer.
Treatments offered at the University of Michigan for primary and secondary liver cancers include:
Surgery to remove the cancerous portion of the liver, which in some cases can be done laparoscopically, leaving only small scars. In 2012, more than 100 liver resections were performed for liver cancer or other suspicious liver masses at the University of Michigan. Approximately two-thirds of these were performed using laparoscopic techniques.
We are one of a handful of centers nationwide to offer liver transplantation for cholangiocarcinoma in addition to hepatocellular carcinoma. More than one-third of our liver transplants are performed for liver cancer - as many as 18-24 patients per year.
Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE):
A minimally invasive procedure where chemotherapy beads are injected directly into the tumor.
Injection of radioactive beads directly into the tumor.
A needle placed into the tumor uses radiofrequency waves to destroy tumor tissue, often without requiring surgery.
Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT):
Also called radiosurgery, this technique uses a computer to concentrate radiation beams in precise locations.
We offer standard chemotherapy as well as access to many clinical trials unavailable elsewhere. Clinical trials offer hope to patients who have failed other treatments.
Expertise in Liver Surgery and Postoperative CareWe utilize the latest technologies for both open and laparascopic liver resection. More than 90% of patients do not require stays in the intensive care unit. Our hepatobiliary surgeons (doctors who specialize in surgery relating to the liver and bile, bile ducts, and gallbladder) also have expertise in liver transplantation along with vascular reconstruction techniques for more complicated liver resections. When future liver function is a higher concern, our surgeons work with our interventional radiologists to perform liver volumetric analysis and preoperative portal vein embolization to increase the size of the future liver remnant before surgery. Patients with existing liver disease in addition to liver or bile duct cancer are often able to safely undergo surgical resection of their cancer. In some cases of secondary (metastatic) liver cancers, liver surgery often follows initial chemotherapy to "down-stage" the disease prior to resection. Patients can expect to be in the hospital for five-seven days following open surgery and approximately three-four days using laparoscopic techniques.
Global Pioneers in Imaging and Radiation Therapy for Primary Liver TumorsWe have seen thousands of patients with liver tumors and actually developed the radiological (imaging) criteria to more accurately diagnose primary liver tumors (where the tumor originated). In fact, we have the largest funded research program in primary liver tumors in the United States and are worldwide pioneers in radiation therapy for primary liver tumors.
Make an appointment/referralTo make a first time appointment, please call 1-800-865-1125 (Monday-Friday, 8am-5:30pm EST).
Children and young adults receive treatment in the Solid Tumor Oncology Program, part of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
If you would like to refer a patient, please contact our M-Line service: 800-962-3555. For more information, visit our
Make an Appointment web page.
Still have questions?The nurses at Cancer AnswerLine™ have answers. Call 1-800-865-1125 and you'll get a personal response from one of our registered nurses, who have years of experience in caring for people with cancer.