Modern medicine has evolved over the years and patients can avail of numerous treatment options, depending on the size and location of the tumour or tumours and whether the cancer being treated in the liver is from a primary or secondary source. Your doctor is best to advise on what treatment, if any, is suitable for you.

Options may include:

Targeted therapy

This family of techniques use heat, intense cold and other methods to destroy cancerous tissue directly. Focal techniques can be used on tumours doctors can see, but may miss micro-tumours that are often present in a diseased organ.


Anti-cancer drugs are administered to the entire body (either orally or intravenously). In addition to attacking cancerous cells, these drugs may damage some healthy cells, which may cause some unwanted side effects.


While chemotherapy or tumour-targeted therapy directly affect the growth and spread of tumour cells, immuno-oncological drugs harness the body’s natural anti-cancer immune response to attack and destroy the cancer. However, they can also affect normal tissue and cause autoimmune side effects.

In some cases, the treatment options listed above may shrink the tumor(s) enough so that surgery (partial hepatectomy or transplant) may become possible.

Primary and secondary liver cancer treatment has evolved. Dr Brian Stedman explains the range of treatment options available to patients presenting with liver cancer.

Dr Brian Stedman,
Consultant Interventional Oncologist, University Hospital Southampton & Spire Southampton Hospital.

Who are the doctors involved in my treatment decision?

Depending on the stage and type of cancer treatment, you may need to see several different cancer specialists.

As outlined by Dr Brian Stedman, cancer can be treated with medicine, radiation or with surgery. Each of these treatments may be handled by a different specialist.

The main type of doctor you are likely to encounter include:

Medical Oncologist

Medical Oncologist This is the cancer specialist you’ll probably see most often. Usually your oncologist will oversee your general care and coordinate treatments with other specialists. Your oncologist will also be in charge of chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. You’ll likely visit your medical oncologist for long-term, regular check-ups.

Radiation OncologistRadiation Oncologist

This cancer specialist treats cancer with radiation therapy.

Surgical Oncologist

Surgical Oncologist This is a surgeon who has special training in treating cancer. Your surgical oncologist may be called in to diagnose cancer with a biopsy. Surgical oncologists also treat cancer by removing tumours or other cancerous tissue.

Interventional Oncologist

Medical Oncologist Interventional oncology is an emerging field in cancer care that is intended to complement existing treatment methods using image-guided technology to directly target solid tumours.

Interventional RadiologistInterventional Oncologist

Also referred to as a Surgical Radiologist. This is an independent medical specialty, which was a sub-specialty of radiology until recently. Interventional radiology uses minimally invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system.

Note: Depending on your case, you may also need to see other types of doctors for special cancer care such as a general surgeon, plastic surgeon, or psychiatrist.11