The liver, located in the upper abdomen, is the largest internal organ in the body. It cleanses the blood and plays a role in digestion.
Liver cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and throughout the world. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 21,670 deaths from primary liver cancer and intrahepatic bile duct cancer were projected to occur in the United States during 2013.
Washington University surgeons in the Section of Hepatobiliary-Pancreatic and Gastrointestinal Surgery perform approximately 100 liver resections per year for primary and metastatic tumors of the liver. The mortality rate for these resections is very low: around 1%.
The section has been involved in clinical trials using cryosurgery and radiofrequency (RF) ablation in the treatment of liver cancer. Washington University hepatobiliary-pancreatic & GI surgeons also have demonstrated the usefulness of positron emission tomography (PET) in staging of patients with primary colorectal tumors that have spread to the liver. Sometimes these patients can be cured with surgery; however, if they have microscopic extra-hepatic disease, chemotherapy is a better method of treatment. PET can help select patients who will benefit from surgery.
Washington University hepatobiliary-pancreatic & gastrointestinal (HPB-GI) surgeons are part of a multi-disciplinary team at Siteman Cancer Center that treats cancer of the liver or biliary tract. Patients with liver cancer are treated with input from specialists in medical, surgical and radiation oncology, ensuring optimal patient care. Siteman is the only cancer center in Missouri to hold the prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute and membership in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
See Siteman Cancer Center treatment approach.
More information about liver cancer from the American Cancer Society.
Washington University HPB-GI surgeons who treat liver cancer:
William G. Hawkins, MD, Section Chief