Liver Cancer Treatments

Northwestern Medicine provides specialty care for liver cancer with a multidisciplinary team in world-class, patient-centered facilities.

Your Liver Cancer Care Team

Our cancer team includes oncologists (physicians who are specially trained in cancer care), surgeons, advanced practice nurses and a comprehensive support team devoted to treating your cancer. Your cancer care team may include:

  • Specialized physicians
  • Surgical oncologists
  • Advanced practice nurses
  • Physician assistants
  • Social workers
  • Registered nurses
  • Registered dietitians
  • Financial counselors
  • Survivorship navigators

Cancer Care Closer to Home

Addressing cancer is a multistep journey that may require many visits. During treatment, you need to focus your energy on getting healthy, not getting to the next appointment. That’s why treatment and support services at Northwestern Medicine are conveniently located throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, so you can get quick access to all the expertise and support you need, close to home.

Your treatment plan will be tailored to your unique needs and may include a combination of:

  • Surgery: A surgical oncologist (a surgeon specially trained in cancer care) may be able to remove all of or a portion of your liver tumor surgically.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is medication that is administered through your veins or by mouth to eliminate cancer cells.
  • Hepatic artery infusion pump chemotherapy: This type of chemotherapy involves a device implanted in your body that connects to the hepatic artery, which supplies blood to your liver.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses targeted radioactive waves to eliminate cancer cells and shrink tumors.
  • Radioembolization: A specialized interventional radiologist may use intra-arterial yttrium-90 radioembolization (commonly called Y-90) to deliver a dose of radiation to a liver tumor.
  • Chemoembolization: A specialized interventional radiologist can perform a chemoembolization. This is procedure administers anti-cancer medications into a tumor through the tumor’s blood supply, allowing for a higher concentration of the medication to have longer contact with the tumor.
  • Ablation therapies: Ablation is a type of treatment that eliminates tumors without removing them. These techniques may be used when surgery is not a good option because of poor health or reduced liver function. Ablation can often be done without surgery by inserting a needle or probe into the tumor through the skin.
  • Clinical trials: Clinical trials are research studies to help scientists find effective cancer treatments. For example, liver transplant surgery is currently being studied in clinical trials to treat some types of liver cancer.

Palliative Medicine

Side effects from cancer treatment can impact your quality of life and how your body responds to treatment. Palliative medicine specialists work with your cancer care team to help relieve your pain and manage your symptoms. Palliative medicine may help:

  • Treat pain and other physical symptoms of cancer, such as fatigue, nausea, trouble sleeping, poor appetite, breathing difficulties and weight loss
  • Treat your emotional symptoms, such as depression and anxiety
  • Improve your body’s ability to tolerate cancer treatments
  • Help you better understand tests, procedures and options
  • Guide you and those who care for you to helpful resources

From your initial diagnosis and continuing throughout your care, your palliative medicine team can support you during your cancer journey.