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Patient learning about a liver cancer diagnosis

A liver cancer diagnosis is made following a series of tests. Most of the patients who turn to Moffitt Cancer Center have already visited a local physician who has conducted several examinations and provided a preliminary diagnosis. Some patients come to Moffitt seeking a second opinion, while others may be exploring additional treatment options. The team of experts in our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program will review slides, X-rays and other information provided by a patient’s physician. If needed, our specialists will conduct follow-up tests to help provide the patient with answers and treatment options.

For patients who turn to Moffitt, we will also conduct a series of tests to provide an accurate liver cancer diagnosis, including the stage of the liver cancer. The tests we conduct may vary depending on the patient’s medical condition and symptoms, but can include:

  • Physical examinations – During the physical, a physician will check the patient’s upper abdomen where the liver is located to check for any lumps or swelling, as these are often initial signs of liver cancer.
  • Blood tests – Elevated levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) or traces of Hepatitis B or C can indicate the presence of liver cancer.
  • Ultrasounds – Ultrasound imaging can reveal tumors or other abnormalities that may indicate liver cancer.
  • CT scans – These scans can provide three-dimensional images of the liver to help physicians detect and measure tumors. Sometimes, a special dye is used that will enhance the image’s contrast.
  • Angiograms – Angiograms provide X-ray images of the blood vessels and may require the use of a special dye.
  • Laparoscopy – A physician will insert a thin, lighted tube, called a laparoscope, through a small incision in the abdomen to view the liver.
  • Biopsy – A physician will remove a small sample of tissue from the liver, which will be sent to a pathologist and examined for signs of cancer. A biopsy can typically be done during a laparoscopy.

If a liver cancer diagnosis is made, these test results will be examined by Moffitt’s multispecialty liver cancer team to determine an effective, individualized treatment plan for the patient and also create a supportive care plan to help reduce any symptoms and side effects. Our team will continue to meet in a weekly tumor board to discuss the patient’s condition and update his or her treatment plan accordingly.

No referral is needed to visit Moffitt Cancer Center and speak about your diagnosis with our oncologists specializing in liver cancer. Set your appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form.