Liver Tumors and Cancer First Appointment

Your first appointment is a time for you and your physician to meet. You might meet your advanced practice provider, too. Before this visit, your physician will have already met with a group of experts at the Liver Tumor Clinic at UW Medical Center – Montlake to talk about your condition. 

Your doctor will discuss your diagnosis, the stage of your liver cancer and the current condition of your liver. They will also explain your treatment options. This visit is also a time for us to start getting to know you as a person. This helps us fit our recommendations to you. Together, you and your care team will decide what needs to happen next.

We encourage you to bring a family member or friend to your first appointment (and any future visits). 

Ready to schedule an appointment?

Where You Will Be Seen

You will go to the Liver Tumor Clinic at UW Medical Center – Montlake for this first appointment. If you have advanced liver cancer, you may start by seeing a medical oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center - South Lake Union.

What to Expect

Your first appointment usually takes one to two hours. You will spend about one hour with your doctor. The rest of your visit may involve checking in, going to an exam room and getting settled in, meeting other members of your team and setting up your next appointments. Here is what you can expect to happen. 


Confirming Your Diagnosis

If you have primary liver cancer (cirrhosis), or if you are at risk for it, you do not need to have a biopsy. Instead, your physician can confirm your diagnosis using an imaging procedure like a CT scan or MRI.

doctor reviewing record

Staging Your Disease

Most newly diagnosed patients have not yet had tests to stage their disease (check the extent of the disease in their body). If you have had these tests and know your stage already, we will look at the test results before your appointment. If you haven’t had these tests yet, we will talk with you about which tests you need and why, how to get them and when you can expect results. Usually, the tests happen within a few days after your first appointment.

doctor writing prescription

Determining Your Liver Function

Liver cancer is more complex than other cancers, because most people with this disease also have liver damage, which means their liver may not be functioning correctly. The liver controls many important functions in your body, so your physician needs to understand how any treatment might affect it. To check how well your liver is working, you will have blood tests (sometimes called a liver panel) that will measure different substances in your liver.

doctor reviewing notes with patient

Discussing Your Treatment

The treatment we recommend for you has a lot to do with your liver function and the stage of your liver cancer. After we have the results of your staging tests and we know the condition of your liver, we will meet with you again to talk about your personalized treatment plan in more detail.

physician with clipboard

Answering Your Questions

Starting with your first appointment (and after), we are here to answer your questions. We want you to know as much as you want to about your disease, your treatment and how care happens at Fred Hutch. We invite you to bring a friend or family member with you to help keep track of your questions and the information that your team gives you. We also encourage you to talk with your care team about your hopes and concerns. Knowing more about you helps your team recommend the right treatment for you.

Before you leave, we will make sure you know what is going to happen next and how you can reach us if you have questions. We will also schedule your next visit.

Resources for Patients and Caregivers

Here are tips about how to prepare for your first appointment at Fred Hutch and what to bring.

Caregiving at the First Appointment

As a caregiver, you can give your loved one both emotional and practical support for their first appointment. Ask them if you can help with things like these:

  • Helping them manage their stress, worry or other feelings.
  • Planning how to get to and from the appointment, what time to leave home and where to park.
  • Making a list of questions they want to ask the physician. Fred Hutch’s Guide to Your Care has a list of questions they may want to ask the care team. At the appointment, make sure that all their questions get answered.
  • Taking notes during the visit. The physician will be giving a lot of details, which can be hard to remember later without notes.