Liver Cancer

Cancer of the liver, which may be primary or secondary cancer, involves an uncontrolled growth of cells. Primary cancer arises within the liver and in its early stages exists only in the liver. Secondary liver cancer, also called metastatic cancer, originates in another organ, such as the colon, stomach, pancreas or breast and then spreads to the liver. Because secondary cancer is present in at least two organs, the treatment possibilities are more limited than for primary liver cancer.

Learn more about liver cancer and how it's treated from Dr. Karen Krok, a hepatologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Treatment

At Penn State Cancer Institute, our specialists provide personalized treatment for liver cancer and diseases. We offer advanced treatments, clinical trials and support groups to give you the best care.

We offer the following treatments for liver cancer:

  • Tumor ablation. A small needle is placed through the skin to target the liver tumor. High-frequency electrical currents or alcohol flows through the needle. The heat from these currents or the alcohol helps destroy liver cancer cells. 
  • Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE). This is a nonsurgical procedure. Your doctor will use an X-ray as he or she guides a catheter (long flexible tube) in delivering chemotherapy and other medications into blood vessels that feed the tumor. 
  • Radioactive bead embolic therapy. During this minimally invasive procedure, a doctor will place tiny beads filled with radioactive materials into the blood vessels attached to a tumor. They provide radiation therapy from inside the body. 
  • External beam radiation or stereotactic body radiotherapy. This is a type of radiation therapy for locally advanced liver cancer.  The radiation precisely targets liver tumors, reducing exposure to other parts of the body. 
  • Complex and minimally invasive hepatobiliary surgery. This means surgery on the liver, bile duct, gallbladder or pancreas. Surgery can be used to treat: 

Care Team

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.
Niraj J. Gusani, MD Niraj J. Gusani, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Karen Krok, MD Karen Krok, MD Gastroenterologist View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD Heath Mackley, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Thomas Riley III, MD, MS Thomas Riley III, MD, MS Gastroenterologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematology/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Nabeel Sarwani, MD Nabeel Sarwani, MD Radiologist View Researcher Profile
Brian Saunders, MD Brian Saunders, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Ian Schreibman, MD Ian Schreibman, MD Gastroenterologist View Researcher Profile
Navesh Sharma, DO, PhD Navesh Sharma, DO, PhD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Matthew D. Taylor, MD Matthew D. Taylor, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Leila Tchelebi, MD Leila Tchelebi, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Nelson Shu-Sang Yee, MD, PhD, RPh Nelson Shu-Sang Yee, MD, PhD, RPh Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Amanda Cooper, MD Amanda Cooper, MD View Researcher Profile

Locations

Penn State Health Surgery Specialties

Penn State Health Surgery Specialties

200 Campus
Suite 3100
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-8887

Clinical Trials

A Phase 3, Randomized, Adaptive Study Comparing the Efficacy and Safety of Defibrotide vs Best Supportive Care in the Prevention of Hepatic Veno-Occlusive Disease in Adult and Pediatric Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant

Groups, Classes and Support

Support groups offer an opportunity to connect with other patients, caregivers and families. Learn more about support groups offered at Penn State Cancer Institute.

Prevention and Screening

You can reduce your risk for liver cancer by: 

  • Drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Preventing hepatitis or seeking treatment if you are infected
  • Seeking treatment for hereditary diseases that cause liver cirrhosis

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Cancer of the liver, which may be primary or secondary cancer, involves an uncontrolled growth of cells.

Symptoms

Liver cancer symptoms include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in the color of urine or stool
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss

Diagnosis

We offer the following tests to screen for liver cancer:

  • Biopsy to test liver tissue for cancer cells 
  • Blood tests and tumor markers
  • Imaging technologies such as CT, MRI or PET scans
  • Interventional endoscopic procedures. Your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light attached into the mouth or anus in order to see inside your body and make a diagnosis. These include procedures such as:
    • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
    • Endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS)
    • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

Liver Cancer

Cancer of the liver, which may be primary or secondary cancer, involves an uncontrolled growth of cells. Primary cancer arises within the liver and in its early stages exists only in the liver. Secondary liver cancer, also called metastatic cancer, originates in another organ, such as the colon, stomach, pancreas or breast and then spreads to the liver. Because secondary cancer is present in at least two organs, the treatment possibilities are more limited than for primary liver cancer.

Learn more about liver cancer and how it's treated from Dr. Karen Krok, a hepatologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

At Penn State Cancer Institute, our specialists provide personalized treatment for liver cancer and diseases. We offer advanced treatments, clinical trials and support groups to give you the best care.

We offer the following treatments for liver cancer:

  • Tumor ablation. A small needle is placed through the skin to target the liver tumor. High-frequency electrical currents or alcohol flows through the needle. The heat from these currents or the alcohol helps destroy liver cancer cells. 
  • Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE). This is a nonsurgical procedure. Your doctor will use an X-ray as he or she guides a catheter (long flexible tube) in delivering chemotherapy and other medications into blood vessels that feed the tumor. 
  • Radioactive bead embolic therapy. During this minimally invasive procedure, a doctor will place tiny beads filled with radioactive materials into the blood vessels attached to a tumor. They provide radiation therapy from inside the body. 
  • External beam radiation or stereotactic body radiotherapy. This is a type of radiation therapy for locally advanced liver cancer.  The radiation precisely targets liver tumors, reducing exposure to other parts of the body. 
  • Complex and minimally invasive hepatobiliary surgery. This means surgery on the liver, bile duct, gallbladder or pancreas. Surgery can be used to treat: 
You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.
Niraj J. Gusani, MD Niraj J. Gusani, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Karen Krok, MD Karen Krok, MD Gastroenterologist View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD Heath Mackley, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Thomas Riley III, MD, MS Thomas Riley III, MD, MS Gastroenterologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematology/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Nabeel Sarwani, MD Nabeel Sarwani, MD Radiologist View Researcher Profile
Brian Saunders, MD Brian Saunders, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Ian Schreibman, MD Ian Schreibman, MD Gastroenterologist View Researcher Profile
Navesh Sharma, DO, PhD Navesh Sharma, DO, PhD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Matthew D. Taylor, MD Matthew D. Taylor, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Leila Tchelebi, MD Leila Tchelebi, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Nelson Shu-Sang Yee, MD, PhD, RPh Nelson Shu-Sang Yee, MD, PhD, RPh Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Amanda Cooper, MD Amanda Cooper, MD View Researcher Profile
Penn State Health Surgery Specialties

Penn State Health Surgery Specialties

200 Campus
Suite 3100
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-8887
A Phase 3, Randomized, Adaptive Study Comparing the Efficacy and Safety of Defibrotide vs Best Supportive Care in the Prevention of Hepatic Veno-Occlusive Disease in Adult and Pediatric Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant
Support groups offer an opportunity to connect with other patients, caregivers and families. Learn more about support groups offered at Penn State Cancer Institute.

You can reduce your risk for liver cancer by: 

  • Drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Preventing hepatitis or seeking treatment if you are infected
  • Seeking treatment for hereditary diseases that cause liver cirrhosis
Cancer of the liver, which may be primary or secondary cancer, involves an uncontrolled growth of cells.

Symptoms

Liver cancer symptoms include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in the color of urine or stool
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss

Diagnosis

We offer the following tests to screen for liver cancer:

  • Biopsy to test liver tissue for cancer cells 
  • Blood tests and tumor markers
  • Imaging technologies such as CT, MRI or PET scans
  • Interventional endoscopic procedures. Your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light attached into the mouth or anus in order to see inside your body and make a diagnosis. These include procedures such as:
    • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
    • Endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS)
    • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)