Anjana Pillai, MD
Hepatologist Anjana Pillai, MD, of the liver tumor program.

Primary liver cancer (cancer that begins in the liver) typically affects individuals who already have advanced liver disease or cirrhosis, usually as a result of hepatitis B or C, alcoholic liver disease or fatty liver disease. Because patients are battling two competing diseases — advanced liver disease and liver cancer — care and treatment is complex and requires an experienced team.

Innovating Liver Tumor Treatment

The UChicago Medicine Liver Tumor Program brings together specialists from our cancer and digestive disease programs — two programs ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Surgeons, hepatologists, medical and radiation oncologists, transplant specialists, interventional radiologists, pain specialists and others offer personalized care for patients with primary liver cancer as well as bile duct cancer and benign tumors of the liver. Our team includes transplant oncologists who are experts in determining which liver cancer patients may benefit from liver transplant. This includes patients with other types of cancer that has spread to the liver, including colorectal and bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma).

Types of Liver Cancer

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer and is often associated with advanced liver disease or hepatitis B. There is effective surveillance available for HCC and early detection is key in offering a cure.

Fibrolamellar cancer is a rare form of primary liver cancer that is often seen in young people without underlying liver disease.

Bile duct cancer or cholangiocarcinoma is a type of liver cancer that starts in the bile ducts — small tubes that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine.

Angiosarcomas and hemangiosarcomas start in the blood vessels in the liver. These fast-growing liver cancers are usually in an advanced stage when they are diagnosed.

Hepatoblastoma is a rare type of liver cancer most often seen in children. The survival rate is more than 90 percent if the cancer is caught early.

Some tumors in the liver are benign (non-cancerous) but can cause problems if they grow. Benign tumors can usually be removed by surgery.

For metastatic liver cancer — cancer that has spread to the liver from the lungs, breast, colon or other organs — please see the information on our site dedicated to those primary cancers.

Histotripsy: What It Is and How It Works

Histotripsy technology uses high-intensity sound waves to selectively destroy cancer tissue in the liver. Unlike traditional treatments such as surgery, radiation or ablation, the procedure does not require any incisions, radiation, needles or invasive procedures.

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