Cancer is complex — there is no routine liver cancer, nor is there a routine way to treat it.

The OSUCCC – James physicians are nationally and internationally renowned in research and patient care for their one particular cancer. Because of that expertise and understanding of cancer’s complexities and how it acts and reacts differently in each person, the very best outcomes — and the most effective means of treating cancer patients — come from a team approach.

At the OSUCCC – James, liver cancer patients have a team of experts that includes medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, geneticists, gastroenterologists, hepatologists, nutritionists and more. Also on that team are liver cancer researchers who help sequence tumors to identify key molecules that fuel each patient’s cancer and who then develop drugs that target only those particular molecules. Many of our experts also help write the national clinical guidelines for treatments.

As one of only a few cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the country and to more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options — many that are available nowhere else but at the OSUCCC – James.

There are several types of treatment for liver cancer. The OSUCCC – James team of subspecialists determine the best treatment for each patient based on his or her specific, individual liver cancer. Patients may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments.

Treatment Options

The following treatments are available to treat liver cancer:


Surgery is the treatment chosen most often to treat liver cancer. The doctor will most likely order blood tests beforehand to determine whether you are a good candidate for surgery.

Partial Hepatectomy

A partial hepatectomy removes the diseased part of the liver, allowing the healthy remaining liver tissue to continue functioning normally. A liver that has been partially removed is capable of regenerating to a certain extent. 

Ablation Therapy

Ablation refers to the surgical removal of tissue. This type of surgery is often used for smaller tumors. Ablation therapy will not cure the cancer, but it can help patients who may not be eligible for a hepatectomy or who might be waiting for a liver transplant. Sometimes, this type of surgery can be performed in an outpatient setting.

There are several different types of ablation therapy used to treat liver cancer. They include:

Radiofrequency Ablation

Smaller tumors are exposed to high-energy radio waves that are used to kill cancer cells.

Microwave Therapy

Tumors are exposed to very high temperatures created by microwaves, killing the cancer cells.

Percutaneous Ethanol Ablation

Ethanol is injected directly into the tumor to kill the cancer cells.

Cryoablation (Cryotherapy)

This type of treatment uses very cold gases to freeze and destroy the tumor. This method may work better for larger tumors.

Electroporation Therapy

A treatment that uses electrical pulses to kill cancer cells by placing an electrode in the tumor.

Liver Transplant

For some patients, a transplant may be the best treatment option. If a donor is not available right away and the patient is on a waiting list, they may receive other treatments while they are waiting. Doctors will recommend a transplant only if the tumor cannot be removed by surgery.

Embolization Therapy

Embolization therapy blocks or shuts down blood flow to the tumor to prevent the tumor from growing. This type of therapy is often used when patients cannot have surgery and for tumors that have not grown beyond the liver.

Several types of embolization therapy are available:

Arterial Embolization

A specialized procedure in which the surgeon inserts a thin tube into the hepatic artery. A substance containing small particles is injected into the artery to stop the blood flow to the tumor and destroy it.


This procedure combines arterial embolization with chemotherapy to destroy liver cancer cells.


A surgeon places very small beads beside the tumor, in a procedure similar to an arterial embolization. The beads lodge into blood vessels near the tumor and deliver small amounts of radiation over several days to eliminate the tumor.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses specific drugs to attack cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. These drugs tend to have less severe side effects and are usually better tolerated than chemotherapy drugs.

Gastrointestinal biomarker

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.

Different radiation techniques used include 3-D conformal radiation therapy and stereotactic ablative radiation therapy to the liver.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Liver Cancer Research & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more cancer clinical trials here than at nearly any other hospital in the region as well as access to some of the most advanced, targeted treatments and drugs available.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only a few U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

Additionally, Ohio State has nearly 300 cancer researchers dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, move, metastasize or reoccur. Because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and make them available to patients sooner.

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

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