Open Accessibility Menu

Liver Metastasis

Liver metastasis occurs when cancers that begin in another part of the body metastasize and spread to the liver. The American Cancer Society notes that this is one of the most common ways to get liver cancer. Cancer that spreads to the liver often starts in the breast, lungs, pancreas or digestive system.

Contact us today for more information on how to fight liver metastasis.

Symptoms & Risks

The symptoms of liver metastasis can vary widely and depend on how much of the liver is cancerous and how much liver function is affected. Common symptoms include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling legs
  • Feverishness
  • Appetite loss

Unfortunately, a common problem with liver metastasis is that there are often no symptoms especially if liver functions are not immediately affected. This means that over 3/4ths of the liver can be cancerous, and the patient may show no symptoms. This is why individuals with risk factors need to get regular screenings for liver cancer.

The risks for liver metastasis are similar to those for other types of liver cancer. However, since liver metastasis does not start in the liver, the risks are often associated with the risks of the primary cancer. Generally, individuals with hepatitis are much more likely to develop liver cancer. Also, individuals with colitis or liver disease have a higher risk. Individuals with liver cirrhosis are especially vulnerable and should receive regular testing. Another risk factor is alcohol and tobacco consumption. General health is also a risk factor and those with better overall health have a lower risk of developing liver cancer.

Diagnosing & Staging

Liver metastasis is usually very advanced when it is diagnosed, but it can be diagnosed through several means. Your physician may use imaging such as an X-ray or CT scan to determine the presence of cancer. Other methods of determining whether the liver is cancerous include blood tests and biopsies. These tests can also determine the origin of cancer: where the cancer has spread from. Biopsies are commonly used to confirm cancer diagnoses and are performed either with a physician using a needle to take a sample or an ultrasound or CT scan. Surgical biopsies are sometimes used but usually only when the other methods are not available.

After you have been diagnosed, your treatment team will examine the cancerous liver as well as the area the cancer metastasized from to determine the severity of cancer and stage it on a scale from 0-4. Staging cancer merely aids the medical team in formulating your treatment plan and can provide you with more information on cancer itself.

Treatment Options

Usually, liver metastasis is diagnosed very late when the cancer is greatly progressed. However, several treatment options remain:

  • Surgery
  • Ablation
  • Embolization
  • Radiation therapy
  • Liver transplant
  • Targeted therapy

Since liver metastasis is such an advanced disease, your doctor may recommend a more aggressive treatment plan than would normally be used for liver cancer. However, liver transplants remain the least preferred treatment measure because of the severity of the surgery and the limited supply of transplants. There are also new targeted therapies that are being used to good effect in combating liver cancer. Your doctor and treatment team will work with you to determine what types of treatments you would prefer.

Call Infirmary Cancer Care at (251) 435-2273 today and let us help you start the path to cancer-free living.

Related Doctors
Related Locations