Learn more about liver cancer*
*hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
What is liver cancer?
Liver cancer (also known as hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC) is a disease in which cancer cells develop in the liver. These cells often form a mass of tissue known as a tumor.
HCC is the most common form of liver cancer. It begins in the cells of the liver, known as hepatocytes.
What are the stages of liver cancer?
Like many cancers, liver cancer can progress or worsen. These phases of progression are called stages. Healthcare professionals assign stages to cancer to evaluate how severe the cancer is and how best to treat it. Liver cancer is staged from I to IV and these stages are defined as follows:
The tumor is only in the liver and is smaller than 2 cm OR larger than 2 cm
One tumor that is larger than 2 cm and has grown into blood vessels, OR more than one tumor but none larger than 5 cm. None of the tumors have spread to lymph nodes or to other parts of the body
More than one tumor, with at least one larger than 5 cm, OR one or more tumors that have grown into a large vein of the liver. None of the tumors have spread to lymph nodes or to other parts of the body
A tumor or tumors that have spread to nearby lymph nodes OR to other organs, such as the lung or bones
Liver cancer spreads when cancer cells break away from the tumor and travel. These cells can invade nearby lymph nodes, tissues, and organs as well as other parts of the body. When liver cancer spreads to lymph nodes or other organs (Stage IV), it is considered advanced liver cancer.
What are the treatment options?
The choice of therapy for liver cancer depends on the stage of your cancer, how well your liver is working, and your overall health. Your healthcare team members will work together to choose the treatment that is right for you.
- You may hear the term first-line treatment. It means the first treatment given for a disease. It is often part of a standard set of treatments, such as surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
- When that first-line treatment doesn’t work or stops working, your doctor may start you on a second-line treatment.
In addition to your doctor, your team may include some of the following healthcare professionals who treat people with liver cancer: hepatobiliary (liver) surgeons, surgical oncologists, gastroenterologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, and registered dietitians.
The team will consider the treatments that are available, including:
removing the whole liver and replacing it with a healthy liver (liver transplant) or removing the part with cancer.
Surgery is an option only with early-stage cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.
- Resectable means able to be removed by surgery
- Inoperable describes a condition that cannot be treated by surgery
a procedure designed to destroy the cancer in your liver using heat, lasers, or microwaves.
a procedure that blocks the flow of blood into the blood vessel that feeds the tumor to stop the cancer from growing.
a category of treatment including drugs that target specific features of cancer cells that help them grow. They may also affect normal cells, causing side effects. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) are one type of targeted therapy used to treat liver cancer.
TKIs block proteins known to send signals that tell cancer cells to grow. Without these signals, the tumor may stop growing or shrink.
a procedure that uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells in the liver.
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How CABOMETYX may help you
CABOMETYX is proven to help certain people with liver cancer who have been previously treated with the medicine sorafenib.