Although relatively rare, liver cancer strikes approximately 33,000 Americans each year, mostly men over the age of 45. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with liver cancer, talk to us. It's important to learn about your options and take action right away. Liver cancer is challenging to treat, but survival rates greatly improve for both early and advanced-stage liver cancer patients when the disease is caught early and treated promptly.

Sometimes other cancers can travel (metastasize) from other sites to the liver, including from the colon or rectum, bile ducts or gallbladder.

At City of Hope, we have one of the most experienced liver cancer programs in the United States with an unmatched reputation for coordinated and compassionate care. Additionally, our surgeons have some of the highest experience in liver surgery in the United States along with one of the best records of safety, innovation, and long-term outcomes. We bring together a broad array of expertise from multiple disciplines using advanced technologies and specialized techniques including:

  • Robotically-assisted surgery that can remove tumors with less discomfort and shorter recovery times, with some patients returning home within 24 hours
  • Minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgery that removes tumors with more rapid recovery
  • Treatments for tumors that don't create major incisions including ablative, needle and catheter based therapies
  • Therapies that can put disease into remission including radioembolization (Y90)
  • Highly precise radiation therapy that can target inoperable tumors — either destroying them entirely or shrinking them enough to become operable — with minimal exposure to surrounding normal tissue
  • Combination regimens integrating surgery, radiation, drug and immunotherapy for maximum effectiveness
  • Pioneering drug research and clinical trials

Plus, your care continues long after treatment is complete. Our supportive care experts — including dieticians, supportive medicine physicians and rehabilitation specialists — work closely with your primary care team to detect and address quality of life issues related to liver cancer and its treatments. This includes managing symptoms (such as pain, nausea and fatigue), adjusting to a new diet and lifestyle after treatment, and being aware of possible long-term effects. We also offer unique family and survivorship programs to assist your loved ones and caregivers.

Nationally Ranked Cancer Center

As one of a handful of institutes to attain the elite designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute , City of Hope is acknowledged as a leader in liver cancer research and treatment. With our decades of experience, specialized therapy protocols and extensive program of clinical trials, newly diagnosed or relapsed patients can find a treatment regimen that is tailored to their needs and gives them the best chance for survival. U.S. News & World Report also named City of Hope as one of the top cancer hospitals in the country.

Learn more about liver cancer, including its risk factors and symptoms.

Care Team

At City of Hope, patients with liver cancer are treated by a multidisciplinary team including surgeons, medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, diagnostic radiologists, interventional radiologists, pathologists and radiation oncologists who work together to determine the most appropriate treatment for each patient.

Because our doctors are also leaders in their field, patients under our care have access to the newest treatment approaches. Our clinicians are also noted clinical researchers, who lead some of the most innovative clinical trials in this area.

Select from the list below to learn more about our primary liver cancer specialists, their education, training, board certifications, current publications and specific areas of clinical expertise.

Yi-Jen Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Radiation Oncology
Vincent Chung, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Medical Oncology
Donald S David, M.D., F.A.C.G.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Gastroenterology
Marwan G. Fakih, M.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Medical Oncology
Yuman Fong, M.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Surgical Oncology
Jonathan Kessler, M.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • Interventional Radiology
Lily Lai, M.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Surgical Oncology
Generic Faculty Photo
Dheeraj Lal, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Gastroenterology
Lucille A Leong, M.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Medical Oncology
  • Hematology
Dean W. Lim, M.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Medical Oncology
Laleh Melstrom, M.D.,M.S., F.A.C.S.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Melanoma and Sarcoma
  • Liver Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
Jinha Mark Park, M.D., Ph.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Diagnostic Radiology
John J. Park, M.D., Ph.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Diagnostic Radiology
Julie Ann Ressler, M.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Diagnostic Radiology
Singh-Gagandeep 2
Gagandeep Singh, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Surgical Oncology
  • Liver and Pancreatic Surgery
Warner-Susanne 2
Susanne Gray Warner, M.D.

Clinical Specialties:

  • Liver Surgery
  • Pancreatic Surgery
  • Gallbladder and Bile Duct Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Robotic Surgery
  • General Surgery

    At City of Hope, we have a dedicated team of nurses who specialize in caring for patients with liver cancer during outpatient visits and inpatient hospital stays. Each nurse works in collaboration with one primary physician to oversee every patient’s care. This allows our nurses to assess a patient’s needs, triage symptoms, and, if necessary, make referrals to other departments within City of Hope, such as supportive care medicine, nutrition, and social work. Nurses also help patients understand the details of the treatment plan and what to expect throughout the course of treatment. They are actively involved with teaching both patients and their families, and provide educational materials as needed.

    As the liaison between patients and physicians, nurses play an important role in the team approach to care offered at the Center.

Tests & Treatments

City of Hope has a long-standing commitment to improving the detection and treatment of primary liver cancer (cancer which begins in the liver) with a goal of developing more effective therapies for this disease. Our experts have treated thousands of patients with liver cancer.

Liver cancer can be a difficult disease, so treatment needs to be rapid and aggressive, requiring the expertise of experienced specialists, to ensure optimal results and best chance at a cure.

Team Approach to Care
City of Hope has one of the most renowned liver cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields - including surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and supportive care medicine. Together, they work collaboratively to plan and implement a treatment regimen that is individually tailored to the patient to enhance outcomes and quality of life.

Members of our liver cancer team meet twice weekly to review patient cases, bringing a variety of clinical perspectives and experience to the development of an individualized treatment plan. The team also participates in a weekly meeting to share clinical trial results, review information from surgical pathology reports, and plan future research studies.

Our doctors are active members of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG).  They lead and participate in most national clinical trials to improve the detection, treatment, and prevention of liver cancer.

Highlights of City of Hope's liver cancer treatment program include:

  • Surgery and Liver Transplantation: Surgery is the primary treatment for liver cancer. It can be curative for early stage liver cancer patients and can also improve survival outcomes and reduce discomfort for advanced liver cancer patients.
  • Minimally invasive surgery: When possible, our surgeons will take a minimally invasive approaches to remove liver cancer, such as laparoscopic surgery (using miniaturized operation instruments inserted through a thin tube) and robotically-assisted surgery (using a specially-designed robot equipped with miniature surgical tools and advanced imaging systems, giving the surgeon superior visualization and greater control at the tumor site.
  • Precise radiation delivery: Using advanced imaging techniques, our radiation team can accurately locate and target a liver tumor for treatment, ensuring maximum impact against cancer cells while minimizing exposure to surrounding normal tissues. At City of Hope, these techniques include respiratory gating and four-dimensional computed tomography, to account for organ and tumor movements during breathing.
  • Chemotherapy, Biologic Therapy & Investigational Approaches: Chemotherapy or biologic therapy can play an important role in treating primary liver cancer.
  • Novel drug trials: In addition to standard chemotherapy regimens, City of Hope patients can enroll in clinical trials testing new drugs (or new drug combinations) that may be more effective against the disease and/or less toxic to normal tissues.

Learn more about diagnostic tests and treatment options for liver cancer, including surgery, radiation and drug therapy.

Clinical Trials

In collaboration with other departments and cancer centers, City of Hope’s liver cancer program has an active portfolio of clinical trials studying novel treatments, including trials of new surgery, radiation and drug therapy regimens that are more effective against the disease and reduce unwanted side effects for patients. Many of these promising therapies are only available to patients being treated at City of Hope.

Learn more about our clinical trials.




Because we are both a treatment center and research facility, City of Hope's doctors and researchers work closely together to develop cutting-edge therapies and procedures, bringing them to patients as rapidly as possible, to improve survival rates and enhance quality of life. Here are some of our current liver cancer research projects:

  • We have developed a Chinese herb combination called PHY906 that can interfere with liver tumor cell growth. It's being tested in a Phase I clinical trial with the targeted therapy drug Sorafenib to see if it is effective in advanced liver cancer.
  • City of Hope is part of a Phase II trial to see if the targeted therapy drug Trametinib can stop tumor development by removing enzymes necessary for liver cancer cells to grow. This trial will also evaluate whether Trametinib is more effective and less toxic than combination therapy for patients with advanced or recurrent liver cancer.
  • We are also part of a Phase II trial testing the anti-cancer drug SGI-110, which has shown promise against blood cancers and can potentially treat liver cancer as well by suppressing genes that drive cancer growth.
  • Our researchers are participating in a Phase II trial combining two cancer drugs, temsirolimus and bevacizumab, which fight cancer using different mechanisms.
  • Researchers are investigating whether linking the breast cancer drug Herceptin to an imaging agent can produce more accurate PET scans, because some liver cancers will take in more Herceptin than normal tissue.


Follow-Up Care
Because cancer of the liver is difficult to control, regular follow-up care after the initial course of treatment -- including periodic imaging, liver function, and blood tests -- is very important. You should also never hesitate to let members of your care team know about pain or any symptoms, changes, or problems that occur after treatment. Follow-up care can be arranged to be ongoing at the City of Hope or arranged in partnership with you primary care physicians.

There is a high incidence of recurrent liver cancer, even after successful treatment. Patients who have been treated for liver cancer should see their surgeon, oncologist, or other doctors for regular surveillance with imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT, or MRI to determine whether the cancer has returned.

Hepatitis Treatment and Liver Cancer Surveillance
Some patients with liver cancer have chronic hepatitis B or C.  These viruses cause chronic inflammation and scarring in the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis B and C can be controlled with antiviral medications. Treatment with antiviral medications is often recommended in combination with treatment for liver cancer.

Patients with liver cancer often have cirrhosis or associated diabetes. Dietary counseling can often help prevent other metabolic problems or symptoms of liver insufficiency. Patients should minimize or eliminate alcohol use and avoid intensive treatment with herbal remedies. City of Hope’s Supportive Care Medicine Program provides ongoing access to nutritional information and other quality-of-life support.




While our primary goal is to cure or control the disease, another top priority is relieving suffering and discomfort for liver cancer patients undergoing cancer treatments.

In addition to curative treatments, City of Hope liver cancer patients and their caregivers have access to the broad range of services offered by our Department of Supportive Care Medicine. The department’s staff of professionals, including registered dieticians, rehabilitation specialists, supportive medicine physicians and clinical social workers, can help patients and loved ones with a variety of care and wellness issues including:

  • Managing liver cancer or treatment effects such as pain, nausea and fatigue
  • Adjustment to new dietary habits following liver cancer treatment
  • Coping and maintaining emotional/social/spiritual well-being
  • Navigation through the health care system
  • Staying healthy and active during/after treatment
  • Healing arts
  • Building caregivers’ skills  

The Department of Supportive Care Medicine is based in City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, which integrates all support services in a central location. The Biller Resource Center provides a warm and welcoming space where patients, families and caregivers can access the resources, education and support they need to strengthen and empower themselves, before, during and after treatment.

For more information or to contact the Biller Resource Center staff, please call 626-256-4673, ext. 32273 (3CARE).

Living with Cancer - This site includes tips, tools and online resources to help cancer patients and their families with issues that arise during cancer treatment.


Additional Resources

Helpful Links


Support the Liver Cancer Program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts more than 100 years ago. Their efforts − and those of our supporters today − have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables us to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies − helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact us below.

Joe Komsky
Senior Development Officer
Phone: 626-218-6291
Email: [email protected]

Or, you can make a gift to support all the research at City of Hope by donating online.


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