Integrated Care for Liver Cancer
The cancer doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens include experts in the care of people with liver cancer. They have exceptional experience diagnosing and treating benign liver tumors, primary liver cancer (such as hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma), and liver metastases (cancers that spread to the liver from other sites). Our ultimate goal is to cure your cancer and maintain your quality of life.
We will put together a team of healthcare professionals to provide the care you need. Our liver cancer surgeons, hepatologists (liver doctors), medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, genetic counselor, oncology navigator, oncology nutritionist, physical therapist, and other specialists are known for providing leading medical, surgical, and supportive care for people with liver cancer. When planning your treatment, our physicians consider the type, location, and stage of your cancer, as well as your age and physical health. Your team meets regularly in multidisciplinary tumor boards to discuss your care and make sure you are receiving the most effective therapies. Our doctors are also on the liver cancer care team at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Liver Cancer Symptoms
Asians and Pacific Islanders, many of whom live in Queens, have the highest rate in the United States of a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma. Detecting and treating the disease early and being screened and treated for hepatitis B (HBV, a leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma) can improve your health. In addition to HBV, other causes of liver injury and cirrhosis—such as hepatitis C, alcohol, and fatty liver disease—may also lead to the development of liver cancer.
Liver cancer in its earliest stages may cause no symptoms. See your doctor to be screened for HBV or if you have symptoms of advanced liver cancer, which may include:
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes)
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Fatigue (feeling tired)
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dark urine
- Pale stools
Liver Cancer Surgery
Surgery is the preferred treatment for operable primary liver cancer or metastasis and offers the best chance for a long-term cure. Our surgeons use minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques for liver surgery whenever possible, including laparoscopic and robotic surgery. In a healthy liver, it is now possible for our surgeons to remove up to 75 percent of the cancerous part of the liver while leaving the remaining healthy liver tissue to regenerate itself.
If you have liver cancer but also have liver cirrhosis, you may be eligible for liver transplantation, local therapies, and systemic therapies (such as anticancer medications). With newer medical treatments and better interventional radiology techniques, more patients with liver cancers that were once considered inoperable can now have surgery.
Interventional (Local) Therapies
People with liver tumors that cannot be removed with surgery may have "loco-regional" therapies. In some cases, these techniques can make an inoperable cancer operable.
- Ablation. At NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, our interventional radiologists offer ablation, a minimally invasive treatment for smaller liver tumors (less than one and a half inches in diameter). Ablation uses intense heat or microwaves to destroy cancer tissue. Our specialists use imaging techniques such as ultrasound or computed tomography to help guide the probe into the tumor.
- Radioembolization. With radio-arterial embolization, tiny spheres of a radioactive substance (yttrium-90) are delivered to the tumor via the main artery in the liver. The radioactive substance then kills cancer cells.
- Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE). This therapy combines the use of an anticancer drug and an "embolic" agent that are injected into the blood vessel feeding a tumor. The chemotherapy inhibits tumor cell growth while the embolic agent (an oil or plastic particles) traps the chemotherapy in place and cuts off the tumor's blood supply.
Precision Radiation Therapy
Some patients with liver cancer benefit from intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which enables us to deliver precisely targeted radiation directly to the tumor while sparing nearby healthy tissue. We also offer stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), aiming pencil-thin beams of radiation to target the cancer. You can receive radiation therapy in our state-of-the-art Radiation Oncology Center.
Precision Medicine and Immunotherapy
Targeted therapies are drugs that inhibit cancer cell growth by blocking the molecules that fuel their growth or the development of the blood vessels they use to grow and spread.
Immunotherapy for liver cancer
We are now able to use immunotherapy for some patients with liver cancers. Treatments such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab boost the power of the immune system to find and kill liver cancer cells. You can receive intravenous therapies in our modern, comfortable Therapeutic Medicine Center, directed by medical oncologists and staffed by experienced oncology nurses who monitor your health and comfort during your infusion.
Clinical Trials for Liver Cancer
At New York Presbyterian Queens, we participate in clinical trials with our fellow NewYork-Presbyterian centers to evaluate novel treatments to advance the care of people with liver cancer and liver metastases, especially those whose disease does not respond well to standard therapies. You may have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial of a promising treatment.
Why Choose Us
The treatment of liver cancer can be complex and requires a team with the expertise and compassion to provide the latest therapies and support you during your care. You can find that team at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. Our goal is not only to help you get better, but to live better, too. In addition to the most effective treatments, we offer nutritional counseling, psychosocial support, and palliative care to enhance your comfort and well-being. We understand the toll that liver cancer can take on your life and on the lives of your loved ones, and we do whatever we can to reduce that burden.
As part of one of the country's largest medical centers, you'll also have access to specialists from all areas who collaborate with our cancer experts to provide you with comprehensive care. Make an appointment to see one of our renowned liver cancer specialists.