Liver Cancer | Symptoms and Treatment | MedStar Health

Liver cancer is one of the most common malignancies worldwide, affecting nearly one million individuals. The most common cancer that begins in the liver is called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); this is associated with several chronic liver diseases, including alcoholic cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis C, and hepatitis C. Certain metabolic conditions are also associated with HCC, including hemochromatosis, autoimmune hepatitis, and primary biliary cholangitis.


  • Abdominal pain

  • Abdominal mass

  • Jaundice

  • Nausea

  • Other indications of liver dysfunction

Specialists at MedStar Health may use a series of physical, laboratory, and imaging tests to uncover liver cancer, but the final diagnosis is often confirmed via needle biopsy, which is the removal and examination of a small piece of the suspected tumor.


Liver tumors may be benign or malignant, but most require surgical removal.  MedStar Health physicians work closely with patients to develop the best treatment plan for their specific case, which may include the following:

  • Surgery

  • Ablation: This procedure involves destroying the liver tumor and the cancer cells with high levels of heat aimed at the tumor. It has minimal side effects.

    • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): This technique uses a heating probe to destroy tumors with an alternating radiofrequency electrical current. It can be performed during open surgery, laparoscopy, or through the skin using X-ray

    • Microwave ablation: This technique is similar to radiofrequency ablation, but uses microwave energy to destroy the tumor instead

  • Resection: Portions of the liver are surgically removed (the liver quickly regenerates, or grows back, to normal size after this procedure). This can also be performed laparoscopically

  • Radiation therapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Liver transplant

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