Updated Visitor Policy as of December 29, 2023: Learn More  
Affiliated Organizations
  HN Physicians   School of Nursing   HNH Fitness   Villa Marie Claire   Simulation Learning   Haiti Health Promise
Medical Partners Offices
Cardiovascular Specialists Pulmonary Specialists Obstetrics & Gynecology North Jersey Heart North Jersey Surgical Surgical Specialistss Primary Care Specialty Assoc. Urologic Specialties Women's Health Care

Liver Cancer

  201-227-6008    |      cancer@holyname.org

Home  /   Cancer Care  /   Liver Cancer


The liver is a large organ located in the upper right of the abdomen, above the stomach. It is essential for food digestion and creates a substance called bile, which is necessary to break down food.

There are two types of live cancer. Primary liver cancer starts in the liver. Secondary, or metastatic liver cancer is more common. It is a cancer that has moved from another organ of the body into the liver. The two types require different treatment.

Approximately 42,000 cases of liver cancer are diagnosed each year. It is more common in men than women and occurs more frequently in people who have Hepatitis B or C, or who drink a lot of alcohol.

The Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name has a multi–disciplinary team of experienced and skilled surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses and support staff to diagnose and treat liver cancer. Together they provide a compassionate, unified approach in creating a personal strategy for each patient's unique medical, emotional and lifestyle needs.


In the early stages of liver cancer, most people will not have any signs or symptoms. As the disease progresses, individuals may experience:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • White, chalky stools


While some cases of liver cancer can't be linked to any cause, there are known factors that can increase the risk of developing the disease:

  • Chronic infections with hepatitis B or C
  • Cirrhosis
  • Certain inherited liver disease, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease
  • Diabetes
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Excessive alcohol consumption


Several tests may be performed to confirm a liver cancer diagnosis including:

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT and MRI
  • Liver tissue biopsy


The type of treatment given for liver cancer depends on whether the cancer originated in the liver or if it spread from another organ. When the cancer develops in the liver and it's at an early stage, surgery is typically performed. At times, a liver transplant is appropriate.

When the cancer has spread, surgery may be used but more frequently, it is treated with a combination of chemotherapy and tumor ablation or embolization – non–surgical procedures that use electrical currents to kill the tumor or block the blood supply to the tumor, respectively.

Treatment types may include: