The liver is a large organ-shaped like a pyramid and located behind the ribs on the right side of the body. Divided into right and left lobes, its job is to help break down and store nutrients from food like sugars, starch, fats, and proteins. It makes proteins that help the body balance fluids; it also makes clotting factors to help blood to clot or thicken when you're bleeding.
One vital job of the liver is to filter out and eliminate toxins. When the liver isn't working properly, however, chemicals can build up and cause damage to the body. Because all the blood goes through the liver, it is unusually accessible to cancer cells.
There are two main types of liver cancers:
Primary Liver Cancers
Cancer that starts in your liver.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (or hepatoma): Four out of every five primary liver cancers are hepatomas. Hepatomas begin in hepatocytes — main cells of the liver.
- Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: Ten to 20% of all liver cancers are cholangiocarcinomas, which start in the bile ducts (small tubes where bile leaves the liver and goes into the gallbladder and intestines during digestion).
- Hepatoblastoma: This rare liver cancer is the type usually found in children.
- Angiosarcoma: Another uncommon form of liver cancer that starts in blood vessels inside the liver.
Secondary or Metastatic Liver Cancers
Liver cancer that begins in a different organ, like the colon, breast, or lung, and then spreads to the liver is called secondary liver cancer (or metastasis). These types of cancers are treated like the cancer from the original location (primary). Most liver cancers are metastatic, coming from other organs. These are treated differently from primary tumors that originate in the liver. For example, when lung cancer has spread to the liver, it's treated as lung cancer.
Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?
Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.
Multidisciplinary care teams with nationally recognized expertise. Collaboration saves lives. Your care team is made up of experts in your exact type of cancer, and every single aspect of it.
Advanced radiation oncology tools. Sylvester was the first medical center in Florida, and the fourth in the country to offer resonance magnetic-guided radiation therapy. Our team is a leader in that domain. Our RapidArc® radiotherapy system delivers intensity-modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). These tools lead to more efficient and effective treatments, shorter treatment times, pinpoint accuracy in tumor targeting and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Finally, our radiation oncology department also offers proton beam therapy in our state-of-the-art Dwoskin Proton Therapy Center.
More cancer clinical trials than any other South Florida hospital. If appropriate for your cancer and stage, our clinical trials provide you with the very newest ways to treat and potentially cure your cancer.
Access to precision medicine. We define your cancer and its treatment by the genes driving it, rather than solely its location and stage.
Nurse navigators to ensure you’re never alone on your cancer journey. They make sure all your records from outside Sylvester are received, coordinate specialty appointments and testing, and answer your questions.
Questions? We're here to help.
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