Liver cancer surgery is usually the preferred treatment for tumors that are confined to one area of the liver and have not spread to nearby blood vessels or distant areas of the body. If cancerous cells have spread, other forms of treatment, such as radiofrequency ablation, chemotherapy or biological therapy, may be recommended instead of – or in addition to – surgery. Furthermore, liver cancer surgery may not be appropriate for a patient who is in generally poor health or has an underlying liver condition, such as cirrhosis.
In order to minimize potential side effects, such as infection and blood loss, liver cancer surgery requires a highly refined approach. The main reason is that many major blood vessels pass through or behind the organ. Adding to the complexity is the nature of the liver itself, which tears easily and bleeds heavily when injured. On the other hand, the liver has the unique capacity to regenerate, and can potentially compensate for the surgical removal of up to 80 percent of its mass by rebuilding itself over the course of several weeks.
Types of liver cancer surgery
Some types of liver cancer surgery include:
- Preoperative portal vein embolization – An interventional radiologist redirects the blood supply to a healthy portion of the liver in order to stimulate cell growth prior to surgery.
- Minimally invasive procedures – A surgeon can perform laparoscopic or robotic-assisted liver cancer surgery to remove small liver tumors that are concentrated in one area of the organ.
- Resection and lobectomy – A surgeon can sometimes treat small liver tumors that do not involve major blood vessels by removing the tumor and some surrounding tissue or an entire lobe of the liver.
- Liver transplant – A liver transplant may be possible if the tumors are small and localized and a liver from a donor with a compatible blood type is available.
- ALPPS procedure - An associating liver partition and portal vein ligation for staged hepatectomy is an advanced treatment for liver cancer and metastasis to the liver from cancers originating in other organs.
- Robotic surgery - A procedure performed by a specially trained surgeon who uses the da Vinci® surgical console to remove a cancerous growth from the liver.
Moffitt's approach to liver cancer surgery
Moffitt Cancer Center has earned an outstanding reputation as a leader in complex cancer procedures, including liver cancer surgery. Our experienced, fellowship-trained surgeons perform a high number of procedures each year, resulting in extensive knowledge and expertise. Each patient is treated in accordance with a customized plan that is collaboratively developed by a multispecialty team of liver cancer experts. This group meets weekly to monitor each patient’s progress and refine treatment as appropriate. Our team also provides supportive care to help minimize side effects and enhance each patient’s quality of life.
For more information about liver cancer surgery and other treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or access our new patient registration form to schedule an appointment. We accept patients with or without referrals.