Understanding liver cancer

At Icon Cancer Centre Hong Kong we offer the latest in treatment methods and technologies for a range of cancers.

Our experienced team of clinical oncologists are dedicated to delivering exceptional care and supporting you through your diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.

Understanding liver cancer

If you have been diagnosed with liver cancer, it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of new information people are sharing with you.

Knowing more about your cancer and what to expect before and after treatment can help you prepare. The following information outlines what your cancer is and how it is diagnosed and treated.

We encourage you to speak to your doctor and care team, who are here to support you throughout your time at Icon.

We will always have time to talk to you and answer your questions.

About liver cancer

Liver cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the liver, forming a cancerous tumour.

Liver cancer can be described in stages depending on how early or advanced the cancer is. These include:

  • Stage I – There is a single tumour that has not grown into blood vessels
  • Stage II – There is a single tumour that has grown into blood vessels, or there are several tumours that are less than 5 cm across
  • Stage III a – There are several tumours, and at least one is larger than 5 cm across
  • Stage III b – The tumour has grown into a branch of the major liver blood vessels (portal vein or hepatic vein)
  • Stage III c – The tumour is growing into a nearby organ (other than the gallbladder) or has grown into the outer membrane of the liver
  • Stage IV – Tumours in the liver can be any size or number and have spread to the lymph nodes


Liver cancer diagnosis involves a number of tests. You may undergo an ultrasound, which looks for tumours in the liver; CT scan, where images are used to provide precise information on the size and position of any tumours; MRI scan; angiography, which shows the arteries that supply blood to a liver cancer; laparoscopy; or biopsy, which involves removing tissue from the tumour to examine.

Further tests may also be required, often to see if the cancer has spread beyond the liver.


Treatment for liver cancer depends on the type that you have, and your age, medical history and treatment preferences. Options include surgery (which may involve removing part of the liver or a liver transplant), radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Common questions

It’s natural to want to know more about your cancer when first diagnosed. We’ve included some common questions that patients ask about liver cancer to help you. Your treatment team at Icon can also answer any additional questions that you have at any point in time.

What are the symptoms of liver cancer?

Symptoms for liver cancer are unlikely to appear in the early stages of the disease, however common signs include weakness and fatigue, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, severe pain and/or swelling of the abdomen, loss of appetite, weight loss, yellowing skin and eyes, pale bowel motions and fever.

What causes liver cancer?

Certain risk factors can play a role in the development of liver cancer. These include:

  • Hepatitis – Chronic infection from Hepatitis B or C is a significant risk factor for liver cancer
  • Pre-existing conditions – Including fatty liver disease, haemochromatosis, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency or type 2 diabetes
  • Liver scarring
  • High alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to certain chemicals

Making an appointment

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Care team

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