Liver Cancer

We offer the greatest depth and breadth of treatment options but also the largest number of clinical protocols to improve diagnosis, treatment and understanding.

The liver, one of your largest organs, secretes bile into your gallbladder to help you digest fats. When you have liver cancer, you often have few, if any, symptoms until the disease has progressed beyond the early stages.

OverviewSlice

Once liver cancer has progressed and symptoms appear, they may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • White, chalky stools

Primary liver cancer most commonly develops following underlying liver disease. IU Health specialists will let you know if you are at risk for this cancer. They do this through surveillance programs for Hepatitis C and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or liver inflammation caused by a buildup of fat in the liver. The IU Health Simon Cancer Center has one of the largest surveillance programs in the region for these two diagnoses.

Your physician will diagnose hepatocellular carcinoma, a primary cancer of the liver, through:

Radiographic studies. Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans will help determine the appropriate treatment option for you.
Biopsy. Your physician may need to examine liver tissue under a microscope to determine the presence of cancer.

Overview

Once liver cancer has progressed and symptoms appear, they may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • White, chalky stools

Primary liver cancer most commonly develops following underlying liver disease. IU Health specialists will let you know if you are at risk for this cancer. They do this through surveillance programs for Hepatitis C and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or liver inflammation caused by a buildup of fat in the liver. The IU Health Simon Cancer Center has one of the largest surveillance programs in the region for these two diagnoses.

Your physician will diagnose hepatocellular carcinoma, a primary cancer of the liver, through:

Radiographic studies. Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans will help determine the appropriate treatment option for you.
Biopsy. Your physician may need to examine liver tissue under a microscope to determine the presence of cancer.

TreatmentSlice

IU Health Simon Cancer Center hosts the largest number of clinical protocols to improve diagnosis, treatment and understanding of toxicity for primary and metastatic liver tumors.

IU Health Simon Cancer Center has the strongest liver transplant program in the United States based on outcomes and the most robust liver-directed therapy program in the Midwest region. They hold a multidisciplinary conference each week, where off-campus partners can present cases or hear how IU Health physicians manage certain cases. This centralized gathering of physicians from a larger geographic area allows you to receive care closer to home, in one convenient location.


For liver cancer, treatments include:

  • Liver transplant. Liver transplants provide the most effective treatment for liver cancer and the underlying liver disease from which most liver cancers develop. Surgeons will base your transplant eligibility on the size and number of your tumors. IU Health physicians offer one of the nation’s top programs with respect to the number of liver transplants performed for cancer.
  • Surgical resection. Removal of part of your liver.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Special equipment delivers high-dose radiation directly to your tumor without affecting your surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Catheter-based techniques. A small flexible tube delivers drugs or other materials directly to the cancerous area of your liver.
  • Radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation. Radio waves or microwaves heat a small area of your liver, which destroys cancerous cells.

Secondary cancers to the liver originate in another site and spread to the liver through the blood stream. IU Health Simon Cancer Center provides a center of excellence for treatment of secondary cancers, including:

  • Metastatic colorectal cancer. Cancer that has spread from a portion of your intestines.
  • Metastatic neuroendocrine tumors. Cancer that has spread from your lungs, appendix, small intestine (duodenum), rectum, pancreas and other parts of the body. Treatments at IU Health Simon Cancer Center can successfully shrink these cancers, or lessen symptoms associated with them.

In addition to treatment of liver cancer, physicians at IU Health offer excellent palliative care that brings you, your family and your doctors together to create your care plan. Palliative care focuses on providing you relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of your illness—whatever the diagnosis. Your physicians will make it their goal to improve the quality of life for you and your family.

Treatment

IU Health Simon Cancer Center hosts the largest number of clinical protocols to improve diagnosis, treatment and understanding of toxicity for primary and metastatic liver tumors.

IU Health Simon Cancer Center has the strongest liver transplant program in the United States based on outcomes and the most robust liver-directed therapy program in the Midwest region. They hold a multidisciplinary conference each week, where off-campus partners can present cases or hear how IU Health physicians manage certain cases. This centralized gathering of physicians from a larger geographic area allows you to receive care closer to home, in one convenient location.


For liver cancer, treatments include:

  • Liver transplant. Liver transplants provide the most effective treatment for liver cancer and the underlying liver disease from which most liver cancers develop. Surgeons will base your transplant eligibility on the size and number of your tumors. IU Health physicians offer one of the nation’s top programs with respect to the number of liver transplants performed for cancer.
  • Surgical resection. Removal of part of your liver.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Special equipment delivers high-dose radiation directly to your tumor without affecting your surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Catheter-based techniques. A small flexible tube delivers drugs or other materials directly to the cancerous area of your liver.
  • Radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation. Radio waves or microwaves heat a small area of your liver, which destroys cancerous cells.

Secondary cancers to the liver originate in another site and spread to the liver through the blood stream. IU Health Simon Cancer Center provides a center of excellence for treatment of secondary cancers, including:

  • Metastatic colorectal cancer. Cancer that has spread from a portion of your intestines.
  • Metastatic neuroendocrine tumors. Cancer that has spread from your lungs, appendix, small intestine (duodenum), rectum, pancreas and other parts of the body. Treatments at IU Health Simon Cancer Center can successfully shrink these cancers, or lessen symptoms associated with them.

In addition to treatment of liver cancer, physicians at IU Health offer excellent palliative care that brings you, your family and your doctors together to create your care plan. Palliative care focuses on providing you relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of your illness—whatever the diagnosis. Your physicians will make it their goal to improve the quality of life for you and your family.

ResearchSlice

IU Health physicians’ commitment to research and advancements in liver cancer distinguishes its program from other cancer centers. Your physicians perform many clinical trials, examining new technologies and new medical therapies that have the potential to advance clinical care. 

Our liver specialists participate in local and national clinical trials. If you qualify for a trial, you may have the opportunity to receive new experimental treatments not currently in general use.

Research

IU Health physicians’ commitment to research and advancements in liver cancer distinguishes its program from other cancer centers. Your physicians perform many clinical trials, examining new technologies and new medical therapies that have the potential to advance clinical care. 

Our liver specialists participate in local and national clinical trials. If you qualify for a trial, you may have the opportunity to receive new experimental treatments not currently in general use.

Patient Stories for Liver CancerSlice

Patient Stories for Liver Cancer

News and EventsSlice

ResourcesSlice

Medline Plus: Liver Cancer

The National Institutes of Health's website provides information for patients and their families and friends produced by the National Library of Medicine. It includes information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues. 

Resources

Medline Plus: Liver Cancer

The National Institutes of Health's website provides information for patients and their families and friends produced by the National Library of Medicine. It includes information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues.