Liver Cancer: A Guide for Patients


Guides for Patients are designed to assist patients, their relatives and caregivers to better understand the nature of different types of cancer and evaluate the best available treatment choices.

What is liver cancer?

Liver cancer is a tumour that forms initially in the tissue of the liver. According to the type of cancerous cells, there are different types of liver cancer. The most frequent type is hepatocellular carcinoma, which arise from hepatocytes, the main cells of the liver. Hepatocellular carcinoma accounts for 90% of all liver cancers and is characterised by its invasive growth.

Beyond a definition of liver cancer, in this guide for patients you will find answers to questions such as:

  • Is liver cancer frequent?
  • What causes liver cancer?
  • How is liver cancer diagnosed?
  • What is important to know to get the optimal treatment?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • What happens after the treatment?

This guide for patients has been prepared in collaboration with Anti-Cancer Fund as a service to patients, to help patients and their relatives better understand the nature of liver cancer and appreciate the best treatment choices available according to the subtype of liver cancer. ESMO recommends that patients ask their doctors about what tests or types of treatments are needed for their type and stage of disease.

This Guide for Patients with liver cancer was first published in 2012. The latest version was updated in January 2014.

To enquire about permission to translate or support the distribution (in English or in a translated version) of the Patient Guides series, please send an e-mail to

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