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Liver Cancer Care

Appointments & Referrals

 Patients: 858-246-0791

Referring physicians: 855-543-0555

 Moores Cancer Center

At UC San Diego Health's Liver Cancer Clinic at Moores Cancer Center, you receive highly specialized, coordinated care at one convenient location. This approach ensures timely access to the best cancer doctors and the most innovative treatment approaches.

  • Convenient access to care, with support services: You won't have to wait weeks to see the doctors you need. In most cases, on your first visit, you will see multiple doctors, all experts in liver disease, on the same day. Together, they will make sure you get the best care possible, as soon and as easily as possible. 
  • Better doctors, more treatment options: Moores Cancer Center is the region's only federally recognized Comprehensive Cancer Center, with more physician-researchers than any hospital in San Diego. Through clinical trials and research studies, we offer you more treatment options for all stages and types of liver cancer.
  • A team of doctors for every patient: Primary liver cancer is a complex disease. Most patients have a medical oncologist to oversee their cancer treatment and a liver doctor (hepatologist) to manage any underlying liver disease, such as cirrhosis of the liver. Your care team may also include a surgeon or radiation oncologist, or both. Your doctors meet regularly to review and discuss the best treatment for you.

Meet San Diego's Best Liver Cancer Doctors

Your First Appointment at the Liver Cancer Clinic

  • Your first appointment will be scheduled in the morning.
  • At this appointment, you will see either a hepatologist or medical oncologist. Your doctor will discuss your medial history, and review your labs and liver imaging studies. 
  • You may have blood work or other tests to confirm your diagnosis and determine whether the cancer has spread.
  • Your doctor team review your health information with other liver specialists to develop the best treatment plan for you. This treatment plan is usually developed by the afternoon of the day of your first visit.
  • In the afternoon, depending on your care plan, you may see a surgeon, interventional radiologist or medical oncologist to discuss your treatment options.

To complete the visit as above, you will need to have imaging and lab work prior to your fist visit.

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, cancer of the cells in the ducts of the liver

Other cancers often spread to the liver. If you have breast, lung or another cancer that has spread to the liver, your care will be led by the cancer disease team that you started with, and include the relevant liver doctors as well.

Diagnosing and Staging Cancer in the Liver

A good treatment plan begins with having an accurate diagnosis of your liver disease. Our doctors use advanced imaging techniques, tissue and blood tests, and genetic and molecular information to make sure your cancer is correctly diagnosed and staged:

  • Imaging – Our world-renowned liver imaging group uses MRI, CT scans and contrast enhanced ultrasound to find precancerous and small tumors that are easy to miss. Imaging studies may also be used to estimate the tumor's size and density, and blood flow in and around the tumor. Most primary liver cancers can be diagnosed and staged through imaging and bloodwork.
  • Biopsies – Our pathologists have highly specialized training in interpreting gastrointestinal tissue samples to determine the type and stage of disease. Their expertise helps us makes sure cancer is accurately diagnosed and staged.
  • Lab tests – Blood and lab tests may be used to further confirm your diagnosis and measure liver function throughout treatment. All patients get tumor marker testing to help monitor their response to treatment.
  • Genetic and molecular profiling – The genetic and molecular characteristics of your tumor may be analyzed to identify treatments that are most likely to work for your particular tumor and genetics. This information may also be used to determine if you are a candidate for a clinical trial.

Advanced and New Treatments for HCC and Other Primary Liver Cancers

With more advanced treatment options than any hospital system in San Diego, we can tailor a plan that is right for you. We offer:

  • Surgical resection – Surgery to remove liver tumors, while leaving healthy liver tissue intact. In some cases, this surgery may be performed through minimally invasive laparoscopy.
  • Liver transplantation – We are a regional referral center for these life-saving transplant surgeries
  • Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) – Chemotherapeutics are injected directly into liver tumors.
  • Radioembolization – Tiny beads containing the radioactive isotope yttrium Y-90 are placed inside the tumor’s blood vessels. 
  • Microwave ablation – Tumor tissue is destroyed with microwaves.
  • Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) – Concentrated doses of radiation are precisely delivered to cancer cells using 3D imaging.
  • Immunotherapy and targeted therapy – Reoccurring or metastatic cancer may be treated with systemic therapies (such as immunotherapy) which travel throughout the body to kill or weaken cancer cells.
  • Clinical trials – Our liver cancer doctors are pioneering new discoveries to improve liver cancer survival rates. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, your doctor can discuss whether an investigational therapy is a best choice for you. Find a clinical trial.

Support Services for Cancer Patients and Families

Our cancer care goes beyond providing you with the best available treatment options. We offer complementary therapies and services, such as:

Our psychosocial support team can help address the emotional challenges that may accompany a cancer diagnosis and treatment. We also have an outpatient palliative care team for patient consults and support. 

Related Services for Liver Cancer Patients