Coronavirus Information: Vaccinations | Testing | Safety Policies & Visitor Guidelines | Appointments & Scheduling | FAQs

Liver (Hepatic) Cancer

Liver cancer is a complex disease. Where you seek care can make a big difference. Renowned experts at the Abramson Cancer Center understand the nuances of liver cancer complexities from a precise diagnosis to treatment. This includes seamless collaboration with the Penn Transplant Institute. We collaborate and work as a multidisciplinary team to provide seamless access to all options for patients, even the most complex cases.

About Liver Cancer

The liver is a large organ located behind the lower ribs that removes toxins from the body. Liver cancer happens when abnormal cells grow out of control inside the liver.

Primary cancer, such as hepatocellular carcinoma, originates in the liver. It typically develops in the background of chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis C, fatty liver disease, or excessive alcohol consumption. Metastatic (or secondary) liver cancer is when cancer cells spread to the liver after starting somewhere else in the body.

Practicing healthy habits like limiting alcohol and not smoking can keep your liver healthy and reduce the chance you’ll develop liver cancer.

Learn more about:

Why Choose Abramson Cancer Center for Liver Cancer Care?

At Penn Medicine, you receive innovative liver cancer treatments delivered by doctors who care about your needs. We stay in close contact with you during your treatment and ensure you can reach us at any time through our easy-to-navigate patient portal, myPennMedicine.

When you come to us, you can expect:

  • World-class surgeons: Research shows experience matters when it comes to liver surgery. Penn is an ultra-high-volume center for primary and metastatic liver cancer surgeries, as well as liver transplants. This high volume translates to exceptional experience and a high degree of safety. Our regularly perform advanced procedures for cases other centers consider inoperable.
  • Team approach: Our fellowship-trained surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other specialists work together to create the best plan for you. We also involve hepatologists with expertise in treating chronic liver disease and cirrhosis as part of your care team. The entire team weighs in on treatment decisions, so you know you’re getting the most comprehensive care. They can also quickly adjust your treatment plan if necessary.
  • Personalized treatments: At the Center for Personalized Diagnostics, pathologists and oncologists work to match you with the best treatments based on genomic tests.
  • Innovative therapies: We offer treatment options that are offered at few other centers in the region, such as proton therapy and hepatic artery infusion pumps.
  • Support when you need it: Being diagnosed with liver cancer can be stressful. Our nurse navigators are here to help you. They help you see the right specialists quickly, provide education and schedule appointments. We also provide nutritionists as well as social work services to offer additional support. Learn more about navigating GI cancer.
  • Trusted care, close to home: Our specialists treat liver cancer at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and locations throughout the region. All Penn doctors collaborate closely, so you get expert care without having to travel far.

Our Approach to Liver Cancer Treatment: The Penn Medicine Advantage

Liver cancer cells don’t always act predictably. Treatment requires teamwork by multiple experts and a combination of therapies, which may include sophisticated surgeries and cancer-fighting drugs. We use precision medicine to understand cancer at the genetic level. Then we design a treatment plan just for you.

Liver cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery: Surgery to remove liver cancer offers the best chance for cure. Many of our liver surgeons are internationally known as leaders in the field. If you are eligible for a liver transplant, we streamline access to the Penn Liver Transplant Program, which coordinates treatment options for living-donor transplants. Learn more about liver cancer surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy and other cancer-fighting drugs treat liver cancer in different ways. Taking one or a combination of these medications may shrink a tumor, allowing for a more effective, safer surgery. We are one of few institutions in the country to offer hepatic artery infusion pumps. This specialized treatment option for certain liver tumors, such as metastatic colon cancer, delivers chemotherapy directly to the liver.
  • Immunotherapy: Penn physicians and scientists are on the front lines of exciting research exploring how cancer drugs can harness the power of the body’s immune system to treat cancers in the digestive system.
  • Targeted therapy: These medications target specific changes in cancer cells that allow them to grow and spread. We use specialized tests to match you with therapies that are right for you.
  • Radiation therapy: Our radiation oncologists are international leaders in treating liver tumors. We use proton therapy and stereotactic body radiation therapy to deliver intense doses of focused radiation to tumors. You get more powerful treatment in fewer visits. This advanced therapy is not widely available at other centers.
  • Liver-directed therapies: Our experienced interventional radiologists specialize in using minimally invasive techniques and advanced imaging to destroy cancer cells with electrical currents or heat.
  • Clinical trials: Clinical trials at Penn give you access to promising therapies and treatment combinations. We participate in trials for all types and stages of liver cancer. We even include patients who may not be eligible elsewhere due to liver poor function. Read about our GI cancer research.
  • Supportive care: Your quality of life matters to us. We offer a full menu of supportive care services focused on improving your well-being and overcoming obstacles that may make the treatment process more difficult for you. Learn more about GI cancer support services.

Comprehensive Liver Cancer Surveillance

A personalized follow-up plan helps your care team track changes that could signal a possible cancer return after treatment. We offer a special program to help patients with gastrointestinal cancer make healthy decisions and manage treatment side effects that may show up after treatment ends.

Request an Appointment

Call 215-615-5858 to speak with a cancer center representative who can guide you to the right liver cancer expert for your needs. You can also request an appointment online.