At Intermountain Cancer Centers, a comprehensive group of board certified experts treats cancers of the liver and hepatobiliary system, which includes the liver as well as the gallbladder and bile duct. The goal of your treatment is to cure your cancer and give you the best possible quality of life throughout your therapy.
Our multidisciplinary approach involves liver and transplant surgeons, hepatologists, gastroenterologists, surgical oncologists, medical and radiation oncologists, and diagnostic and interventional radiologists who meet regularly to discuss each patient’s ideal treatment. Regarding therapy we consider the type of cancer, stage, and the patient’s overall health and needs.
Treatments and Procedures
Treatment for cancers in any of these organs depends on the extent of disease. Every year we treat hundreds of patients with liver and bile duct tumors—some whose tumors have been considered inoperable elsewhere.
Resectable cancers are those that can be removed completely by surgery, meaning they have not spread too far. In these cases, surgical resection may involve a laparoscopic-assisted microwave ablation of liver tumors, which uses directed microwave heat to treat small tumors under constant ultrasonographic guidance. Other options include open or laparoscopic partial hepatectomy (liver resection) to remove part of the liver, and open hepatic lobectomy to remove the left or right lobe of the liver.
Sometimes tumors are large and require more extensive surgery, such as an open hepatic trisegmentectomy to remove the left or right lobe of the liver plus a medial segment of the opposite lobe. In these particularly challenging cases, the regenerative capacity of the liver can be triggered by performing an outpatient portal vein embolization procedure a few weeks before surgery, improving safety and outcomes.
For very advanced liver tumors, another technique available at Intermountain Cancer Centers is the ALPPS procedure, which stands for Associating Liver Partition and Portal vein Ligation for Staged hepatectomy. ALPPS is an advanced technique that allows resection of advanced tumors in two steps by making use of the regenerative capacity of the human liver in a short period of time.
For specific liver cancers like hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma, Intermountain Cancer Centers have a very experienced liver transplant program that offers a nationally ranked standard of care for these conditions with positive long-term outcomes.
Depending on the extent of the hepatobiliary tumor, other procedures may be needed, including open or radical cholecystectomy to remove the gallbladder, biliary (bile duct) excision followed by reconstruction, or portal lymphadenectomy to surgically remove one or more groups of lymph nodes.
For cancers that cannot be removed by surgery, our experienced group of interventional radiologists can offer other liver-directed therapies that include transarterial radio-embolization and transarterial chemo-embolization, which combine radiation therapy or chemotherapy to block or reduce the blood flow to cancer cells in the liver. Other tumor-destructive therapies like microwave ablation and cryoablation are available using tomographic and ultrasonographic guidance.
At Intermountain Cancer Centers, we work together to ensure our patients have access to cutting-edge techniques, new medicines, clinical trials, and palliative care when appropriate to treat liver and hepatobiliary cancers. We provide compassionate, personalized care according to the individual needs of our patients.