Liver cancer treatment in Denver

The liver, the body’s largest internal organ, is made up of many different types of cells. As a result, there are several different types of cancers that can develop.

At HealthONE hospitals, we understand the complexities of the liver and are prepared to provide advanced care to patients who are diagnosed with liver cancer. We use cutting-edge imaging technology and advanced surgical procedures to treat complex tumors and provide the best possible outcomes for our patients.

For more information about cancer diagnosis, treatment and other services, call askSARAH at (303) 253-3225.

Comprehensive liver care

We provide patients with a multi-faceted approach to cancer care to ensure they are receiving many different types of support and treatment. This includes:

  • Access to liver cancer clinical research trials
  • Focus on minimally invasive interventional radiology therapies, such as radioembolization for the treatment of liver tumors
  • Infusion therapy services
  • Multidisciplinary team approach to care
  • Radiation therapy services
  • Weekly cancer case conferences for medical teams

Cancer care team

Our expert cancer care team includes:

  • Hepatologists
  • Interventional radiologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Surgeons

Early liver cancer diagnosis

Our interdisciplinary team is trained to recognize warning signs and symptoms to diagnose liver cancer early.

We use several different methods to reach a liver cancer diagnosis, including diagnostic imaging tests and minimally invasive exams. These can include:

  • Angiogram
  • Biopsy
  • Blood test
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Laparoscopy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound

Liver cancer symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of liver cancer are:

  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Liver cancer risk factors

Common risk factors of liver cancer include:

For patients with these risk factors, our physicians examine each patient to determine whether any symptoms of liver cancer are present.

Types of liver cancer we treat

We treat all types of liver cancer, including:

  • Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the blood vessels in the liver)
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)
  • Hepatoblastoma (affecting children)
  • Primary liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma (cancer of the hepatocytes, the main type of cells found in the liver)
  • Secondary liver cancer (metastatic cancer that spreads from another location in the body)

Treatment options for liver cancer

Treatment for liver cancer varies. In some cases, a liver transplant is necessary. In other cases, a transplant is not necessary or possible and a combination of the following are used:

Advanced liver cancer treatments

Additionally, we offer many new technologies and treatments that are helping patients with liver disease live longer and healthier lives.

Arterial embolization

This interventional radiology technique targets tumors more directly from the inside of the liver. Arterial embolization decreases blood flow to the liver by injecting a safe substance into the patient’s body. This is done in the effort to kill cancerous cells in the liver by decreasing the cells’ oxygenated blood flow.

Chemoembolization

A minimally invasive treatment for liver cancer, chemoembolization can be used when too much tumor exists to treat with radiofrequency ablation (RFA). It is also used when the tumor is in a location that cannot be treated with RFA or in combination with RFA or other treatments.

Chemoembolization delivers a high dose of a cancer-killing drug (chemotherapy) directly to the organ. This deprives the tumor of its blood supply by blocking, through embolization, the arteries feeding the tumor.

Complex biliary drainage

Complex biliary drainage is usually performed by an interventional radiologist with the help of X-ray guidance. Drains are placed to improve bile drainage compromised by benign or malignant tumors. In some patients, the bile ducts become blocked and bile cannot drain from the liver.

The interventional radiologist places a catheter through the skin and into the bile ducts to drain the bile. In some cases, a small metal cylinder, called a stent, is placed in the liver to hold the blocked area open. A catheter may also be placed to drain bile in patients.

Irreversible electroporation

Irreversible electroporation is a minimally invasive surgery option used to destroy cancerous cells without the need for high heat or extreme cold. Patients benefit from this procedure as the moderate temperatures used during treatment do not harm the surrounding bodily structures.

Patients also benefit from irreversible electroporation by typically having a shorter recovery time, less pain and less scarring due to the operation not being an open surgery.

During the procedure, your surgeon will place two or more fine-needle electrodes around the liver tumor. Guided by CT or ultrasound imaging, your surgeon will activate the electrodes, and they will deliver a series of high-voltage, low-energy currents with the intent to kill cancer cells.

Radioembolization for the treatment of liver tumors

Sky Ridge Medical Center is one of the only hospitals in the nation to offer advanced minimally invasive procedures for liver cancer, including radioembolization.

Radioembolization is a procedure used to treat patients who have formerly inoperable tumors. During the procedure, a surgeon will maneuver a catheter into a patient's liver artery and release a high dose of radioactivity designed to minimize the growth of a tumor. It can add more than a year to the life expectancy of patients with liver cancer.

This pioneering work at Sky Ridge Medical Center is being studied by others to learn the most effective ways to employ this method throughout the rest of the country.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) offers a localized treatment that kills the tumor cells with heat, while sparing the healthy liver tissue. Radiofrequency energy can be given without affecting the patient's overall health, and most people can resume their usual activities in a few days.

RFA can be used for multiple tumors and can be performed by an interventional radiologist using nonsurgical techniques (directly through the skin with X-ray guidance) or by a surgeon (through a laparoscope or a traditional surgical incision).

A small needle is then guided into the tumor. From the tip of the needle, radiofrequency energy is transmitted to the tip of the needle, where it produces heat in the tissues. The dead tumor tissue shrinks and slowly forms a scar.

About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

As part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally trusted care with the support of a globally recognized network.

askSARAH helpline

Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially trained nurses are available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (303) 253-3225 or chat online at askSARAHnow.