Liver Tumors & Cancer

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What to Expect

Patients treated by doctors from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) benefit from leading-edge treatments, improved treatment outcomes, and strong cancer-prevention programs created from decades of research.

Where Will I Be Seen?

SCCA liver cancer patients are first seen at the multidisciplinary Liver Tumor Clinic at University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). The Liver Tumor Clinic for primary liver cancers takes place every Wednesday in the Surgical Specialties Clinic on the third floor of the Surgery Pavilion. Most treatment for liver tumors is performed at UWMC. Systemic treatment (chemotherapy) is performed at the main SCCA clinic on south Lake Union. Follow-up treatment for patients with advanced disease is often provided at the main SCCA clinic as well.

Your First Visit

At your first visit, all of the specialists who will be involved in your care will meet to design treatment that’s tailored to you. You will receive a comprehensive treatment plan in a single day—truly one-stop shopping. The exact composition of your team will be based to your individual needs. Your team may include a surgeon, hepatologist, transplant specialist, interventional radiologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and other health care providers.

We recommend that you bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment for emotional support and to help keep track of the information your team will be giving you.

Before your first visit to the Liver Tumor Clinic, your team will get your pathology slides (tissue samples from any biopsies), if available, and any scans or tests you have already had. We may also ask that you have additional tests before your visit so the results are available before you come in. If you do not live in or near Seattle, we may ask your referring doctor to arrange any additional tests.

During your first visit, you will meet with a resident or fellow (a doctor who is completing specialized training). This doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and your current health problems and will do a physical exam. After the exam, you will have a break.

While you are taking a break, your team will meet in what is called a tumor board conference. Together they will go over your history, exam, current health problems, and test results, and review your pathology reports and scans. Based on all this information, they will discuss treatment options and determine treatment recommendations.

After the tumor board conference, you will return from break and meet with the attending doctor, who will talk with you about the team’s recommendations. Depending on the elements of your treatment, you might meet with several doctors, including a surgeon, an interventional radiologist, a hepatologist, and a medical oncologist. If you need additional scans or lab tests before treatment begins, the team will explain this, too.

It’s possible that your first visit will take all day, depending on your exact situation. We understand that a lengthy appointment can be challenging. Our goal is to connect you with all your providers on the same day so that you go home with a complete picture of what your treatment will be.

Once your treatment plan is in place, a team member will coordinate your care, schedule your visits, and keep track of what needs to happen next. Liver cancer care is often complex, and it may involve several steps. We will help you manage all the steps.

Follow-Up

Once your cancer is in remission, you will need to visit your doctor on a regular basis to check your health. During these visits your doctor will give you a physical exam and may give you tests to detect signs of cancer. Your doctor will talk with you about the follow-up schedule and steps towards health maintenance that are right for you.