Liver Cancer Surgery

At City of Hope, our surgeons have performed thousands of surgical procedures to remove liver tumors and we have one of the most experienced surgical teams in liver surgery in the nation. One of our surgeons recently published a study demonstrated an improvement in outcomes and long-term survival among patients who are treated at hospitals that perform a higher volume of liver surgeries.

Our surgeons are continuously working to improve the effectiveness and reduce complications of liver surgery, and we routinely offer surgical treatment to many patients of all ages whose tumors are considered inoperable at other hospitals.

City of Hope surgeons are also experienced in diagnosing and removing large benign liver tumors, which can bleed or cause abdominal pain but do not pose additional health risks.

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. The procedure can involve removing the tumor from the body or destroying the tumor while it’s still in the body (ablation) or halt its growth by cutting off its blood supply (embolization).

The liver is one of two organs in the human body that has the capacity to regenerate. Up to 80 percent of the liver can be surgically removed and, within several weeks, it will entirely rebuild itself. If one lobe -- and its associated blood vessels -- is surgically removed, the remaining lobe will compensate for the loss. Our surgeons routinely use a new technique called preoperative portal vein embolization, which redirects the blood supply to the healthy portion of the liver to stimulate cell growth before surgery. Our doctors also use liver-sparing surgical techniques that leave more of the healthy liver intact, reducing the need for regeneration and the possibility of complications.

The expertise of City of Hope’s surgeons also means that they can treat liver tumors that are considered inoperable elsewhere. This is done through advanced procedures that can navigate around sensitive areas (such as major blood vessels) and working with radiation and medical oncologists, who can shrink the tumor to down to an operable size and shape with radiation and drug therapies.

City of Hope’s surgeons specialize in minimally invasive and robotically-assisted surgical procedures for liver cancer, which can remove cancerous tissue with less discomfort for the patient. By using smaller incisions compared to an open procedure, patients experience less pain, recover faster, have shorter hospital stays and are less likely to have post-surgical complications. Some patients are able to return home within 24 hours of the procedure.

Liver Transplant
Patients with liver tumors that are small in size and number, have not spread to nearby blood vessels, and have cirrhosis or other liver conditions, may be eligible for liver transplantation at another medical center. Our liver cancer team can identify which patients may benefit from transplantation and routinely coordinates liver transplantation at other area hospitals.

Back to the liver cancer program.


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