Liver Cancer/ Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Liver cancer occurs when abnormal cells begins to grow in the liver, one of the largest organs in the body. Liver cancer is also called hepatic cancer (hepa- means liver in Greek).

Primary liver cancer occurs when abnormal cells originate within the liver. Primary liver tumors in the United States are most often hepatocellular (derived from liver cells called hepatocytes). About 15-20 percent of primary liver tumors are biliary cancers (derived from bile ducts). These look different under the microscope, often have different blood markers, and are usually treated differently than liver tumors.

Secondary, or metastatic, liver cancer occurs when the cancer originates elsewhere in the body and then spreads to the liver. These cancers often begin in the pancreas, colon, stomach, breast, or lung. The most common types of tumors in the liver overall are metastatic, and these are also treated differently than primary liver cancers.