Liver Cancer Survivorship

About Liver Cancer

At Penn Medicine, patients with liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), receive their care from a multidisciplinary team of nationally recognized experts in the diagnosis, treatment and research of gastrointestinal cancer.

The Abramson Cancer Center's interdisciplinary gastrointestinal cancer program was the first of its kind. Its close collaboration with Penn Medicine's transplant program provides access to comprehensive medical and surgical care for patients who require a liver transplant. Penn Transplant Institute has performed more than 1,500 liver transplants.

The liver is the largest solid organ in the body and is located on the right side of the abdomen. The liver is responsible for such functions as filtering the blood for excess toxins, helping regulate blood sugar, creating bile for digestion, and creating enzymes responsible for blood clotting.

There are two main types of liver cancer.

  • Primary liver cancer: Cancer that forms in the tissues of the liver. The most common type is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
  • Secondary liver cancer: Cancer that spreads, or metastasizes, to the liver from another part of the body like the breast, lung, thyroid or other gastrointestinal cancers.

Penn Medicine's multidisciplinary approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment provides better outcomes and gives patients access to the most advanced treatment, surgical techniques and clinical trials.

Because navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right physician.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Read more About Liver Cancer

Diagnosing Liver Cancer

An accurate cancer diagnosis from trusted cancer specialists is the first step in getting personalized treatment options to treat liver cancer.

Patients who choose Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, benefit from a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists including gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists and surgeons who work together to provide a diagnosis and treatment plan designed specifically for each patient with liver cancer.

Cancer specialists at Penn Medicine are highly experienced in using the most advanced techniques for diagnosing cancer and are actively researching better and more precise ways to detect liver cancer.

Navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right person. Penn Medicine's contact center has experienced cancer nurses available and ready to guide patients in finding the cancer specialist right for them.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Read more Diagnosing Liver Cancer

Liver Cancer Treatment

Following the diagnosis and staging of liver cancer, cancer specialists at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center develop a personalized treatment plan. Penn's treatment options for liver cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
    • 3-D conformal radiation therapy
    • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
    • Volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT)
    • Proton therapy
    • Stereotactic body radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
    • Liver-directed therapies
      • Ethanol injection
      • Chemoembolization of the hepatic artery
  • Biologic therapies
  • Other treatments

Because navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right physician.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Read more Liver Cancer Treatment

Liver Cancer Survivorship

There are more than 12 million cancer survivors living and thriving today as a result of advances in cancer treatment. However, cancer treatments can result in physical, emotional and financial complications long after the therapy is complete. Survivorship programs at Penn Medicine are a distinct phase of liver cancer care and are designed to help patients transition from their cancer treatment routine to a post-cancer care lifestyle.


Personalized Survivorship Care

Close follow-up care for liver cancer patients is crucial because there is a high rate of recurrence. Routine follow-up care should be performed for several years following treatment.

At the end of treatment, liver cancer patients should schedule a survivorship visit with their oncologist and nurse practitioner. At this time, patients are provided with a summary of the treatment received as well as a plan for follow-up care.

Long-term liver cancer survivors should speak to their oncologist and nurse practitioner about scheduling a one-time survivorship-focused consultation with a nurse practitioner or physician. Annual or more frequent follow-up appointments are also available.

Penn cancer providers work one-on-one with patients to develop survivorship care plans. Since every cancer is unique, the plans are tailored to the patients. 

The survivorship care plan includes information on:

  • Potential long-term or late side effects of cancer treatment, the symptoms and treatment.
  • Recommendations for cancer screening for disease recurrence or a new cancer.
  • Psychosocial effects, including relationships and sexuality.
  • Planning follow-up visits.

A survivorship care plan encourages patients to review the information with their healthcare team and become active participants in their follow-up care.

Patient navigation Specialists

Every step of cancer treatment – from cancer diagnosis, to surgery and treatment to forming a survivorship plan – comes with different needs and issues that should be addressed.

Oncology Navigation Specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center are available to make a patient’s experience as seamless as possible. As experts in navigating complex health care situations, Oncology Navigation Specialists serve as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for advice, support and direction for patients and families. They can help in a variety of ways including; provide emotional support, identify resources, and ensure access to information, support services, educational programs and community resources.

Learn more about patient navigation specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center.

Survivorship Programs at Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine’s Living Well After Cancer™ Program is a nationally recognized program that focuses on issues facing cancer survivors. In 2007, the Abramson Cancer Center was designated a LIVESTRONG ™ Survivorship Center of Excellence Network.  The Abramson Cancer Center is only one of eight LIVESTRONG centers in the United States, and is the only LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence in the Philadelphia region. The program focuses on survivorship, a distinct phase of care.

Prescription for Living: The Cancer Survivorship Program at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, provides patients with a summary of important information about specific cancer diagnoses and treatments, as well as follow-up information and steps to take towards recovery, supportive care and education to help patients adjust to their lives as cancer survivors.

Continued Support

Penn offers cancer patients support programs and groups to enhance their survivorship care plans.

The Abramson Cancer Center and Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital at Pennsylvania Hospital host a wide range of materials and activities that provide education and support to address key areas of concern including survivorship for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Focus On: Gastrointestinal Cancers is a day-long conference for patients and their loved ones that addresses surrounding gastrointestinal cancers.


Nicholas Martell

Nicholas Martell was first diagnosed with prostate cancer more than ten years ago. He was healthy for many years after being treated with radiation therapy. Nick recently experienced a recurrence of his cancer. Physicians at Penn tailored his treatment

Stand Up to Cancer

Peter O'Dwyer, MD, professor of Hematology-Oncology and program director of Development Therapeutics in the Abramson Cancer Center, was interviewed on NBC10's 10! Show about Penn's work as part of the Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team... Read more

Clinical Trials

Liver Cancer Trials

Phase III Randomized Trial of the Role of Whole Brain Radiation Therapy in Addition to Radiosurgery... more