Surgery offers the best chance to cure liver cancer. But only a small portion of people with liver cancer can have surgery. Different kinds of surgery may be done. The type of surgery depends on the size of the cancer, where it is, how much it has spread, how well the rest of the liver is working, and other factors.
When might surgery be used for liver cancer?
Surgery is often the treatment of choice if it can be done. But surgery may not be a choice if you have cirrhosis or other liver damage. It may also not be a choice if the tumor takes up too much of the liver and you don’t have enough healthy liver. Or if the cancer has spread outside the liver to other parts of your body. You might be able to have surgery if:
Your cancer is in only one part of the liver and is not in a major blood vessel. The rest of your liver must be fairly healthy, and you must be otherwise healthy enough to have major surgery. In this case, you might be able to have surgery to remove the part of the liver containing the tumor. This is called a partial hepatectomy.
Your cancer is only in the liver, but it’s too big or in too many places. Or the rest of your liver is not healthy enough for a partial hepatectomy. You may be able to have surgery to remove your entire liver, followed by a liver transplant.