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Things to know about liver cancer

for Veterans and the Public

Things to know about liver cancer

  • Liver cancer can cause death in a person with cirrhosis.
  • Patients with cirrhosis resulting from any cause, including hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and alcohol use, have a greater risk of developing liver cancer.
  • Liver cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, especially in Asia and Africa, and it is becoming increasingly common in the United States.
  • Biopsy refers to extracting a small sample of tissue with a hollow needle and testing it for liver cancer. A biopsy is sometimes needed to make a diagnosis, but imaging and blood tests can usually determine whether liver cancer is present. Biopsies of liver masses can be difficult to perform and there are some risks involved.
  • Liver cancer can be treated if it is detected early, but the treatment is very specialized. Patients should discuss the details thoroughly with their health care providers.
  • One excellent treatment for early-stage liver cancer is a liver transplant. This is a complicated form of treatment, because a patient first needs to be a good candidate for a liver transplant, then be evaluated at a liver transplant center and placed on a waiting list, and finally, be well enough to undergo a transplant when a donated liver becomes available.