Metastatic Liver Tumors

Most of the time, malignant tumors in the liver started elsewhere in the body and metastasized (spread) to the liver. Metastatic liver cancer usually originates in another organ, such as the stomach, pancreas, lungs, breasts, or large intestine. Early on, symptoms of metastatic liver cancer can include fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Later in the cancer’s progression, symptoms include jaundice and the retention of fluid in the abdomen (a condition called ascites). Blood and imaging tests are used to diagnose metastatic liver cancer. If the results of these tests are unclear, a biopsy of the liver may be necessary.

Once a cancer has metastasized, treatment options are limited. If the tumor or tumors are small enough, they may be removed surgically (resection). Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink liver tumors, though it cannot cure the cancer completely. Other treatment options include radiofrequency ablation, in which microwaves are used to kill the tumor, and embolization, in which the tumor's blood supply is cut off to "starve" the tumor.