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Liver Cancer

The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body, and one of the most vital to life, so it is important to keep it healthy and disease free. You cannot live without your liver. Our livers are responsible for over 500 functions, including the secretion of glucose, proteins, vitamins, and fats; the production of bile; the processing of hemoglobin; and detoxification of numerous substances.

Liver cancer death rates have generally been increasing since 1980; from 2003 to 2012, rates increased by 2.7% per year. Liver cancer is seen more often in men than in women. The American Cancer Society reports that there will be almost 4,000 deaths from liver cancer in California in 2020. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), also called malignant hepatoma, is the most common type of liver cancer. Most cases of HCC are as a result of a viral hepatitis infection (hepatitis B or C).


Primary Liver Cancer

Primary liver cancer originates in the liver. There are several kinds of primary liver cancer, but below are the four most common according to the American Cancer Society.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC): This is the most common form of liver cancer in adults. Hepatocllular cancers can have different growth patterns. Some begin as a single tumor that grows larger. A second type seems to start as many small cancer nodules throughout the liver, not just a single tumor. This is seen most often in people with cirrhosis (chronic liver damage) and is the most common pattern seen in the United States.
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: The American Cancer Society reports that about 10% to 20% of cancers that start in the liver are intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas. These cancers start in the cells that line the small bile ducts (tubes that carry bile to the gallbladder) within the liver.
Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma: These are rare cancers that begin in cells lining the blood vessels of the liver. People who have been exposed to vinyl chloride or to thorium dioxide (Thorotrast) are more likely to develop these cancers. Some other cases are thought to be caused by exposure to arsenic or radium, or to an inherited condition known as hereditary hemochromatosis.


Metastatic Liver Cancer

Most of the time when cancer is found in the liver it did not start there but has spread from somewhere else in the body. Some of the most common places for cancer to matastasize from include the pancreas, colon, stomach, breast, or lung. Because this metastatic cancer spreads from its original site, it is called a secondary liver cancer or metastatic. These tumors are named and treated based on their primary site rather than their secondary site.

Risk Factors:

According to the American Cancer Society, several factors can increase a person’s chance of getting liver cancer.

– Gender: Liver cancer is more common in men than in women.
– Race/Ethnicity: In the US, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of liver cancer.
– Chronic Viral Hepatitis
– Cirrhosis
– Alcohol Use
– Inherited Metabolic Diseases
– Tobacco Use
– Obesity
– Type 2 Diabetes
– Aflatoxins
– Vinyl Chloride & Thorium Dioxide
– Anabolic Steroids


How Our Team Treats Liver Cancer

CyberKnife is a painless, nonsurgical alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body. The treatment delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme precision and features a device that controls the width of the radiation beams the machine delivers during treatment, allowing our clinical experts to vary the beam size and treat a larger variety of tumors throughout the body.

Treating liver cancer with conventional radiation therapy can sometimes be a challenge because liver tumors move with respiration. In addition, the tissue surrounding the liver tumors is very sensitive and can be easily damaged.

CyberKnife is able to deliver very high doses of radiation to both primary and metastatic liver tumors with extreme accuracy. Working in conjunction with CyberKnife is the Synchrony® Respiratory Tracking System, which enables the radiation beam to track tumor movement in real time and allows patients to breathe normally during their treatment sessions. CyberKnife allows physicians to zero in on a moving target – the liver tumor – and irradiate it while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

CyberKnife’s Advantage

  • It’s nonsurgical, meaning no incisions
  • There is no anesthesia or hospitalization required
  • It’s painless
  • It’s completed in five or fewer outpatient treatment sessions
  • There is little to no recovery time, allowing for an immediate return to daily activities
  • There are minimal, if any, side effects
  • Due to pinpoint precision of high-dose radiation delivery, there is minimal radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor
  • CyberKnife can treat patients that have previously had surgery, gone through radiation therapy, or are currently undergoing radiation therapy for liver cancer

Speak with one of our dedicated Team Members about how we can help today.