One of the best and most successful treatments of liver cancer is surgery. If all of the cancer can be removed the chances of success are higher, however that is not always possible because the cancer may have spread. Surgical intervention must allow for removal of as much as possible and still allow enough of the liver to function properly.

The liver is important for clearing toxins, making proteins, and storing sugar.  Only so much of the liver can be removed.   The remaining liver is called the liver remnant.  This remnant will rapidly grow after liver surgery.

Liver resection (partial hepatectomy) is where the portion of the liver is removed and the remainder left in place.  This procedure may be performed laparoscopically or with open surgery depending on the location and size of the tumor.  Right hepatectomy involves removing the right side of the liver (segments 5-8) and left hepatectomy involves removing the left side of the liver (segments 2-4), see Figure.

Alternative Options

Liver transplant involves removal of the entire liver. The unhealthy liver is then replaced with a liver that comes from a healthy donor. If the cancer has spread or the tumor is very large, or complications such as  cirrhosis are present then a liver transplant may be the best and more reasonable option.  There are risks associated with liver transplant such as weak immune system, infection, and liver rejection.

Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) is where heat is used to burn away the portion of the liver that is diseased and it is often used when more traditional surgery is no longer possible.

Embolization involves injecting tiny plastic pellets into the arteries of the liver.  This process of embolization results in blocking blood flow to the cancer.

Surgery for the Treatment of Liver Cancer
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