Liver Cancer Care at Kaiser Permanente

The liver, one of the largest organs in the body, filters harmful substances from the blood and helps with digestion. At Kaiser Permanente medical offices, patients with liver cancer receive care from a team that includes specialists in the liver (hepatologists), the digestive tract (gastroenterologists), surgeons, and our cancer specialists.

We use the latest research and technology to make sure our patients receive the most effective treatment plan, tailored to their individual needs.

What Is Liver Cancer?

Adult primary liver cancer occurs when cancer starts in the cells of the liver. Another type of liver cancer starts in different part of the body and spreads (metastasizes) to the liver. These cancers often require different types of treatments.

Primary liver cancer can often be treated successfully when found in an early stage. Treatment often starts with surgery to remove part of the liver, when a person is healthy enough to have it. Liver transplants might be an option if the tumor is small and hasn’t spread. In advanced cases, other treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy may help people live longer and feel better.


There are several things that can increase your risk for primary liver cancer including:

  • Being infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or both
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Having cirrhosis or other chronic liver disease
  • A family history of hepatitis B and liver cancer
  • Being extremely overweight

Signs and Symptoms

In primary liver cancer, signs and symptoms are caused by swelling of the liver and can include:

  • A hard lump on the right side just below the rib cage (where the liver is located)
  • Discomfort in the upper abdomen on the right side
  • Pain around the right shoulder blade
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

Conditions other than liver cancer can also cause these symptoms. Check with your doctor if you have these symptoms so you can be tested and treated right away.

To learn more, see Adult Primary Liver Cancer Treatment.