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Understanding your risk

Like other cancers, your risk depends on many variables, including:

  • Family history
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Lifestyle behavior (e.g. a diet and exercise)
  • Viral Infection (such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV))
  • Cirrhosis (a progressive and irreversible condition that causes scar tissue to form in your liver)
  • Liver diseases (such as hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease and Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)
  • Diabetes
  • Overall health
  • Age

Optum’s oncology department offers comprehensive cancer risk assessments and hereditary cancer genetics evaluation programs to help you identify your risk.


  • Weight Loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upper abdominal pain (lump or pain in the right side below the rib cage)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • General weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Yellow discoloration of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • White, chalky stools

Diagnosing liver cancer

  • Blood Test: To test for elevated levels of the protein, alpha-fetoprotein, which may indicate the presence of liver cancer
  • Imaging Tests: A CT scan (computed tomography) is often the most reliable imaging test to discover the extent of liver damage, but an ultrasound or angiogram (which focuses on your blood vessels in the case of potential instances of angiosarcoma) may be performed as well
  • Biopsy: Removing and testing a sample of tissue to test will determine if cancerous cells are present

Types of liver cancer

  • Primary liver cancers: Cancers that start in the liver such as hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Metastatic cancer: Cancers that start in another part of the body and spread to the liver, such as bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma), or other tissues (i.e. sarcomas) within the liver

In addition to primary and metastatic liver cancer, Optum’s liver cancer specialists also treat benign (non cancerous) liver masses as well as chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis.


Treatment is individualized based on the characteristics of the liver cancer and the patient themselves. However, the most common treatment options include:

  • Surgery: to remove the the tumor or affected area
  • Targeted therapy: drugs that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells or by directing your immune system to kill cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy: chemicals administered in pill or IV form to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells
  • Liver directed therapies such as chemoembolization, radioembolization or radiofrequency ablation

Medical care and help

To find a liver cancer specialist near you, visit our providers page.

Click here to learn more about Optum’s minimally invasive robotic assisted surgery options.

Contact us if you have any questions.