When you have liver cancer, there are a few types of doctors that specialize in treating it. Each doctor will help plan your treatment based on your age, medical history, and personal preferences.
Early diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer improve your chances for a longer, healthier life. Your doctor may recommend several different tests to diagnose your condition.
If your doctor finds a cancerous tumor in your liver, you will need specialized care right away. You’ll be referred to a medical oncologist who specializes in treating cancers with medication and other therapies, such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy.
Your oncologist will work with other specialists within the treatment team to develop a treatment plan that’s best for you. They may include a hematologist for blood-related cancers, a general surgeon, a plastic surgeon or a psychiatrist to help you deal with the emotional impact of treatment and recovery.
A medical oncologist can also prescribe drug treatments that may shrink or destroy your tumors without harming your liver. They are often used when surgery or a transplant is not an option.
Other types of disease-directed liver cancer treatment are called ablation and embolization, and may be used to shrink tumors that can’t be removed by surgery or transplant. These procedures are minimally invasive and guided by imaging technology.
A Hepatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and medical conditions that affect the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or bile ducts. They are also a subspecialty of gastroenterology, which is a branch of medicine that deals with the digestive system.
Hepatologists use a variety of tests and techniques to diagnose hepatic disorders and develop individualized treatment plans for their patients. These include blood tests, imaging exams, and liver biopsies.
Hepatologists treat a wide range of liver conditions, including viral hepatitis, alcohol-related hepatitis, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. They can also help patients who need to undergo liver transplant surgery. Hepatologists also conduct research on the liver to learn more about its functions and develop new treatments for liver disease. They often work closely with other specialists, including gastroenterologists and oncologists. They may specialize in medical hepatology, surgical hepatology, or transplant hepatology. Training in this area requires a three-year fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology.
The liver is a major organ that helps regulate many body functions. Doctors who specialize in treating liver cancer include hepatologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists.
Those with advanced disease or those who cannot undergo surgery or a liver transplant may benefit from specialized interventional radiology procedures to destroy tumors and spare healthy tissue. These treatments are minimally invasive and can be performed as day case procedures, with less pain and risk than surgery.
Our physicians and scientists have developed innovative treatment methods that target tumors or their blood supply, destroying cancer cells without harming surrounding tissues. These treatments can be used to treat primary and metastatic liver cancers, and can improve outcomes for people who have undergone surgery or a liver transplant.
Surgery doctors treat liver tumors, as well as cancers that begin in other parts of the body and spread to the liver (metastasis). This type of cancer may be difficult to cure but can control symptoms and prolong your life.
Your treatment plan will depend on your health, stage of cancer and other factors. Your team will review all of your options and help you make the best choice for you.
Radiation therapy, which uses X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, is one option. Another is stereotactic body radiation therapy, which targets high doses of radiation directly at the tumor while minimizing damage to healthy tissue around it.
Other types of liver cancer treatment include hepatectomy and chemoembolization. Hepatectomy removes a small part of the liver and can be done if it is not possible to operate on all of the liver. Chemoembolization is a minimally invasive procedure that uses imaging guidance to target cancer with tiny pellets soaked in chemotherapy.