Most liver cancers are treated by surgery to remove the diseased part of the liver. Surgery to remove part of the liver is called partial hepatectomy and is done if the cancer has not spread to other lymph nodes or parts of the body. After surgery, the normal liver tissue takes over the function of the liver. Up to 80 percent of the liver can be surgically removed and the liver will regenerate itself within weeks, provided that the liver otherwise is normal.
For a variety of reasons, some patients cannot have the liver removed by surgery. These cancers are called unresectable. Resectable is the medical term meaning "able to be removed by surgery."
Full Spectrum of Care
Your medical team at the Liver Tumor Clinic has a full spectrum and the latest technologies to diagnosis and treat your liver tumor or cancer:
- Surgical resection: laparoscopic, open or robotic
- Radiofrequency ablation: percutaneous, laparoscopic, open or thoracoscopic
- NanoKnife (percutaneous, laparoscopic or open)
- Systemic therapy
- Radiation therapy
Two of the latest offerings from the Liver Tumor Clinic include robotic surgery and irreversible electroporation.
UW Medicine's team of skilled surgeons performs minimally invasive robotic surgery for certain diseases of the liver, bile duct, and pancreas. With the help of the daVinci robot, patients can receive robotic surgery that results in less blood loss, few transfusions, shorter hospital stays, faster healing times, and less post-surgical pain. When patients recover faster and avoid complications, the next phase of treatment can be started sooner, which can be critical to improving the patient's overall outcome.
The Liver Tumor Clinic is at the leading-edge of technology and is one of the few hospitals in the nation to offer robotic-assisted partial and major hepatobiliary surgery.
According to James O. Park, MD, "The robotic technique is superior to standard laparoscopy in certain situations. The improved depth perception allows greater precision and accuracy and the instruments give the surgeon much greater range of motion to perform challenging tasks."
Irreversible Electroporation (“NanoKnife”)
Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a new tumor ablation technique that uses electrical currents to permeate the membrane of cancer cells and perforate the cell wall, effectively destroying the cancer cell without harming the surrounding tissue. Because IRE allows more targeted tumor destruction, it provides a new option to treat liver tumors that are close to surrounding vital organs and structures that cannot otherwise be removed surgically or be safely destroyed by radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
Because of its combination of extensive clinical expertise in liver tumor treatment and substantial research infrastructure, SCCA is uniquely positioned to offer patients opportunities to participate in clinical studies for the newest treatments. Read more about the clinical studies offered at SCCA.
Patients who cannot have surgery because the liver is too damaged may receive a liver transplant, which will take place at SCCA's founding organization, University of Washington Medical Center. Advanced liver cancer, cancer that is found in both lobes of the liver or that has spread to other parts of the body, cannot be cured but it is usually treated with chemotherapy (using drugs to kill cancer cells) and radiation therapy.