At the OSUCCC – James, cancer research experts focus on studying liver cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The OSUCCC – James consistently paves the way in learning more about what causes liver cancer — leading to even more highly targeted prevention, care and treatment.

Screening for Liver Cancer

Cancer screening exams can help find liver cancer at its earliest stage when the chances for successful treatment, optimal outcomes and fewer side effects are greatest. These tests are usually done when a patient is healthy and has no specific symptoms.

Not only are expert cancer researchers at the OSUCCC – James continually working to detect and diagnose liver cancer early, but they are also developing additional tests to detect and diagnose cancer even earlier, leading to improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects.

Liver cancer can be hard to detect because symptoms do not often appear until the cancer has progressed. There are currently no recommended screening tests for liver cancer for people who are at low risk for the disease.

For people who have cirrhosis of the liver or a hepatitis infection, screening tests may be done once or twice a year to try to catch any early signs of cancer.

Risk Factors for Liver Cancer

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting liver cancer.

Infection with the hepatitis virus and cirrhosis of the liver are two major risk factors for the disease.

Hepatitis B or C Infection

Long-term infection of the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus is a major risk factor for liver cancer. In the United States, hepatitis B is seen more often than hepatitis C.

Hepatitis is spread through human contact. Having hepatitis B and hepatitis C is a significant risk factor for liver cancer. Most people recover from hepatitis infection but some can become chronic carriers and are at an increased risk to develop cirrhosis of the liver.


Cirrhosis is a disease of the liver that develops over time. Cells in the liver can become damaged from chronic hepatitis C infection or by drinking too much alcohol over many years. Scar tissue forms where the liver cells are damaged. Most people who develop cirrhosis will have an increased lifetime risk for liver cancer.

The following are additional risk factors for adult primary liver cancer:

    • Having a close relative with both hepatitis and liver cancer
    • Eating foods tainted with aflatoxin (poison from a fungus that can grow on foods, such as grains and nuts, that have not been stored properly)
    • Having hemochromatosis, a condition in which the body takes up and stores more iron than it needs. The extra iron is stored in the liver, heart and pancreas

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Having risk factors does not necessarily mean you will develop liver cancer. If you do have risk factors, or a family history of the disease, ask your doctor about available tests to detect liver cancer early.

If you have received a liver cancer diagnosis, or if you want a second opinion or just want to speak to a liver cancer specialist, we are here to help you. Call 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210