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Norris Cotton Cancer Center
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Liver and Bile Duct

What is liver and bile duct cancer?

The liver is a large internal organ that breaks down and stores nutrients, helps with clotting, and break down toxic waste in the blood. Bile ducts are small tubes in the liver and carry digestive juices to the gallbladder or directly to the intestines. Cells in the liver, bile ducts and gallbladder can form several different types of malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) tumors.

More information about liver and bile duct cancer (National Cancer Institute) 

Interdisciplinary Liver Tumor Clinic

The interdisciplinary Liver Tumor Clinic at Norris Cotton Cancer Center brings together specialists from disciplines across Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center to offer patients with primary liver cancer the newest, most aggressive treatment regimens, symptom management, and supportive care.

Our goal is to provide the best possible care in the most convenient manner for patients with primary benign or malignant liver tumors, as well as advanced and recurrent liver malignancy and end-stage liver disease. This clinic is appropriate for patients with any newly diagnosed lesion in the liver, whether benign or malignant. The diagnosis of a new liver lesion is often difficult for both the provider and patient. Our interdisciplinary team is here to help.

What liver and bile duct cancer is not:

Primary liver and bile duct cancers begin in cells in the liver or bile ducts. Secondary liver cancer is cancer that has spread from another primary location elsewhere in the body to the liver. Neither type should not be confused with other gastrointestinal cancers such as stomach, pancreas, GIST, neuroendocrine or colorectal because these cancers can have different symptoms, outlooks, and treatments.

Common types of liver and bile duct cancers:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (hepatocellular cancer) – A common type of liver cancer that can begin as a single tumor that grows larger and can spread, or as many small cancer nodules throughout the liver.
  • Intrahepatic and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) – starts in the cells that line the small bile ducts within the liver.
  • Gallbladder cancer is also related to bile duct cancer

Diagnosis

It’s possible that you could have one or more of the following tests (but not all of these will apply to your condition):

  • Imaging (CT scan)
  • Physical exam
  • Biopsy
  • Radiologic intervention

Treatment

Depending on your unique set of conditions, your treatment could include one or more of the following treatments (but not all of these will apply to your condition):

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery
  • Embolization

Your full team of care providers will work closely together to review your diagnostic tests, identify the best course of treatment particular to you, and help you understand your diagnosis and what to expect with any treatment you have.

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