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Hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Alternative Names

    Primary liver cell carcinoma; Tumor - liver; Liver cancer; Cancer - liver


    Aggressive surgery or a liver transplant can successfully treat small or slow-growing tumors if they are diagnosed early. However, few patients are diagnosed early.

    Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are not usually effective. However, they may be used to shrink large tumors so that surgery has a greater chance of success.

    Sorafenib tosylate (Nexavar), an oral medicine that blocks tumor growth, is now approved for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.

    Support Groups

    You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group with members who share common experiences and problems. See:

    • Cancer - support group
    • Liver disease - support group

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The usual outcome is poor, because only 10 - 20% of hepatocellular carcinomas can be removed completely using surgery.

    If the cancer cannot be completely removed, the disease is usually fatal within 3 - 6 months. However, survival can vary, and occasionally people will survive much longer than 6 months.

    • Gastrointestinal bleeding
    • Liver failure
    • Spread (metastasis) of the carcinoma

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you develop persistent abdominal pain, especially if you have a history of any liver disease.