Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Center for Liver Disease & Transplantation

FAQs

What is liver cancer?
How common is liver cancer?
What causes liver cancer?
How is liver cancer diagnosed?
What are the survival rates for patients with liver cancer?
How do I choose a treatment center for liver cancer?
How is liver cancer treated?
Does the Methodist Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation participate in clinical trials for liver cancer treatments?

What is liver cancer?
Liver cancer is the presence of cancerous cells in the liver. It may be either primary (originating in the liver) or metastatic (originating in another area and spreading to the liver). To learn more, see About Liver Cancer.

How common is liver cancer?
Liver cancer incidence in the United States has risen steadily since the 1980s. According to the American Cancer society, more than 24,000 American adults were diagnosed with the disease in 2010. It’s currently the fifth leading cause of cancer death for men and the ninth for women.

What causes liver cancer?
While it’s still unclear what exactly causes liver cancer, it has been linked to several risk factors, including:
Chronic hepatitis B and C
Heavy alcohol use
Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver
Inherited metabolic diseases such as tyrosinemia, alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, and Wilson’s disease
Diabetes
Obesity, which can lead to fatty liver disease

How is liver cancer diagnosed?
Because patients rarely experience symptoms in the early stages of the disease, liver cancer can be tricky to diagnose. Your physician will begin with a physical examination to check for swelling or fluid retention in the abdomen and for jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes). If any of these indicators are present, he or she may order bloodwork and imaging tests to get more information. To learn more about diagnosing liver cancer, please visit the About Liver Cancer page.

What are the survival rates for patients with liver cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for patients with liver cancer is 14 percent—but survival rates improve considerably with surgery or transplant.

How do I choose a treatment center for liver cancer?
You’ll want to choose a center that treats a high volume of liver cancer patients and that can perform a liver transplant if one becomes necessary. At the Methodist Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, we treat over 200 liver cancer patients each year, and our dedicated transplant team is here to guide you through the transplant process if one is needed. In 2010 alone, our team performed 44 liver transplants, with a 95% survival rate.

How is liver cancer treated?
The most effective method of treating liver cancer is through surgery—either a partial hepatectomy (removal of the cancerous portion of the liver) or a liver transplant. Alternative methods, including intra-arterial liver tumor treatments and radiofrequency ablation, are available for patients who are not candidates for surgery. To learn more, please visit the Treating Liver Cancer page.

Does the Methodist Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation participate in clinical trials for liver cancer treatments?

Yes, our team is actively involved in clinical trials focused on various aspects of liver disease and transplantation; for information on current trials, please visit the Clinical Trials page or send an email to liverresearch@houstonmethodist.org.

To find out more about the Methodist Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, call us at 713-441-8839 or 866-94-LIVER (866-945-4837) or send us an email.