Treatment plans are made by teams of specialists and may include one or a combination of treatments, including minimally invasive procedures, chemotherapy and biologic therapy, or radiation therapy.

We have vast global experience treating liver cancers and have been instrumental in developing novel and more effective treatments.

Once a diagnosis has been established, additional tests may be required to determine the extent, or stage, of the tumor and the presence of other liver conditions, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and diabetes, all of which can affect the choice and outcome of treatment.

3D Image of a Liver

Specific Treatment for Liver Cancer will be Determined by Your Doctor Based On:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance of specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference
  • We will sit with you and discuss the options available so that you can be as informed as possible when making the decision.

    Treatment for Liver Cancer May Include:


    • Our surgeons often use minimally invasive surgical techniques to determine the extent of the cancer and whether it has spread outside of the liver. Doctors insert a laparoscope — a thin, lighted tube with a camera at its tip — through a tiny incision in the patient’s abdomen to view the liver and surrounding areas.
    • Many liver tumors can be surgically removed, known as resected, using a laparoscope or robot, which can reduce discomfort, speed up recovery time, and reduce the length of stay in the hospital as compared with traditional surgery. Providence Saint Johns’ surgeons were among the first to use laparoscopic techniques in the treatment of liver cancer. Ultrasound can also be performed laparoscopically which is the most sensitive modality to detect even the smallest liver tumors.
    • Larger liver resections can also safely be performed using state of the art techniques such as portal vein embolization (PVE) to increase the size of the remaining liver.
    • Tumors can also be destroyed without any surgery or general anesthesia. Heat ablation using radiofrequency or microwave needles can be performed under XRay guidance and as an outpatient.
    • Other liver-directed therapies are also routinely performed such as SIR spheres – the insertion of radiation beads through the blood vessels to target the tumors directly. More modern radiation approaches (SBIRT) are capable of treating tumors in difficult locations without damaging surrounding normal liver tissue.

    Radiation Therapy

    • Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill or shrink cancer cells.


    • Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Many novel chemotherapy regimens and combination with biologic therapy have been shown to be very effective in making tumors smaller and thereby allowing surgical removal.


    • This works to shrink tumors by blocking their supporting blood vessels. Sometimes the blood flow to one of the portal veins can be blocked to allow the other lobe of the liver to grow. This is known as portal vein embolization and the opposite lobe of the liver can grow an additional 15 percent in just six weeks, allowing more extensive removal of liver tumors without risk of liver failure.

    Thermal Ablation

    • Uses heat, cold, microwave or electrical currents to destroy tumor cells. Providence Saint John’s has extensive experience destroying tumor via freezing (cryosurgery) or heat (radiofrequency or microwave ablation). These procedures are typically reserved for those patients that are not amenable to resection. Ablation can be performed under CT scan, ultrasound or laparoscopic guidance allowing for outpatient surgery.