Look to UC San Diego Health for highly specialized, coordinated liver cancer care.
Feel confident knowing you will receive timely, convenient access to the region's best cancer doctors and the most innovative treatment approaches at the Liver Cancer Clinic at Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla.
Nationally Ranked Cancer Care
UC San Diego Health is repeatedly ranked among the nation's best in both cancer care and gastroenterology by U.S. News & World Report. We are also the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Diego County. This is the highest possible rating for a U.S. cancer center, and it means you’ll receive the best possible care and support. Studies show patient outcomes are better at NCI-designated cancer centers.
What is Primary Liver Cancer?
Primary liver cancer is cancer that starts in your liver. Hepatitis B or C, chronic heavy alcohol use and fatty liver disease are all risk factors for this cancer.
We treat all types of adult primary liver cancer, including:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or hepatoma, which is cancer of the main type of liver cells
- Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, which is cancer of the cells in the ducts of the liver
Other cancers often spread to the liver. This is known as secondary liver cancer. If you have secondary liver cancer, your care will be led by the cancer disease team that you started with and will include relevant liver doctors as well.
Diagnosing and Staging Liver Cancer
An accurate diagnosis is the first step in crafting an effective treatment plan. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following to diagnose and stage cancer:
Imaging – You may have an MRI, CT scan or contrast-enhanced ultrasound to look for tumors, including easily missed precancerous or small tumors. UC San Diego Health has an internationally renowned liver imaging team. Most primary liver cancers can be diagnosed and staged through imaging and bloodwork.
Biopsies – If a biopsy is recommended, pathologists with expertise in gastrointestinal cancers will analyze your tissue samples.
Lab tests – Blood and lab tests may be used to confirm your diagnosis, and measure liver function and your response to treatment.
Genetic and molecular profiling – These can help identify treatments that are right for you, including whether you may be a candidate for a clinical trial.
Treatments for Liver Cancer
Receive more treatment options than any other hospital system in San Diego.
What to Expect: Your First Appointment
On your first visit, you will usually see two specialists and receive treatment options on the same day. Please provide your doctor with any imaging and lab work prior to your first appointment.
1. Your first appointment will be scheduled in the morning. You will see either a hepatologist or medical oncologist to discuss your medical history, and review your labs and liver imaging studies.
2. You may have blood work or other tests to confirm your diagnosis and determine whether your cancer has spread.
3. Your doctor reviews your health information with other liver specialists to weigh treatment options. A care plan is usually developed by the afternoon of the day of your first visit.
4. You may see a surgeon, interventional radiologist or medical oncologist in the afternoon to discuss your options and next steps.
Liver Cancer Doctors and Surgeons A team approach to your care
Primary liver cancer is a complex disease. You will likely have a medical oncologist oversee your cancer treatment and a liver doctor (hepatologist) to manage any underlying liver disease. Your care team may also include a surgeon or radiation oncologist, or both. Your specialists will meet regularly to review and discuss the best treatment for you.
Advancing Cancer Care and Prevention
UC San Diego Health physicians are actively researching ways to improve cancer care. By joining a clinical trial, you may receive a new cancer treatment before it is available to the public. If your cancer has not responded to standard therapies, talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial could be right for you.
Patient & Family Support Services
At UC San Diego Health, your care goes beyond treating disease. It also includes supporting you and your loved ones emotionally throughout your cancer journey. Most of our support services are free.