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Liver Cancer

Cancers of the liver and bile ducts are the fastest-growing cause of cancer deaths in the United States. There are several forms of liver cancer. The most common is called hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC. The main causes of the disease are infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) from any cause. Other risk factors include heavy alcohol use, fatty liver disease, obesity and diabetes. Patients whose HCC is identified at an early stage can receive much benefit from treatment with multiple liver-directed therapies. But because most of these patients are diagnosed with advanced-stage tumors, the overall survival rate of patients with HCC is poor. Nevertheless, recent treatment advances have significantly improved those survival rates.  

Cholangiocarcinoma is the second most-common liver cancer. It is treated very differently from HCC. People with less-advanced cholangiocarcinoma are treated with surgery and treatments localized to their livers. But patients with more advanced disease typically receive chemotherapy. Molecular testing of the tumor can help doctors match patients with experimental targeted drugs, several of which are showing promise in ongoing clinical trials.

At Fred Hutch, our liver cancer researchers create new models of the disease in order to better understand the genetic changes that drive it. They pinpoint the biomarkers that will improve detection. And they test drug therapies to improve outcomes for patients.
 

Researchers and Patient Treatments

Dr. Bill Grady

Our Liver Cancer Researchers

Our interdisciplinary scientists and clinicians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat liver cancer as well as other cancers and diseases.

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Patient Treatment & Care

At Fred Hutch, our interdisciplinary teams work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our aim is to provide patients access to advanced treatment options while getting the best cancer care.

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Selected Liver Cancer Clinical Trials

Clinical research is an essential part of the scientific process that leads to new treatments and better care. Clinical trials can also be a way for patients to get early access to new 
cutting-edge therapies. Our clinical research teams are running clinical studies on various kinds of liver cancer.

Hepatoma

Most malignant liver tumors are hepatomas, also called hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs), which begin in the functional cells of the liver. It most commonly occurs in people with liver disease, particularly in people with chronic hepatitis B and C. HCCs account for 75 to 85 percent of all liver cancers.

Hepatoma Clinical Trial

Advanced Liver Cancer

Advanced liver cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes and/or to distant sites within the body. Advanced liver cancer doesn’t often metastasize, but when it does, it’s most likely to spread to the lungs and bones. Because these cancers are widespread, they cannot be removed with surgery.

Advanced Cancer Clinical Trial

Pediatric Heatoblastoma

Hepatoblastoma is the most common liver cancer of childhood, although it affects only 2 to 3 people in a million. It affects children during the first three years of life and usually presents as an abdominal mass which causes pain and discomfort.

Hepablastoma Clinical Trial

See all Liver Cancer Clinical Trials

Liver Cancer Research

Our researchers study the molecular mechanisms behind liver tumor formation and the factors that affect liver cancer development. They aim to use these findings to advance early detection and diagnosis. Our scientists also study the factors that affect whether a particular treatment works for a given patient. Our clinical trials test new and experimental drug therapies.

Earlier Detection

HCC is the third most common cause of cancer-related death. High mortality rates stem in part from the difficulty of detecting HCC in its early stages. Our researchers are developing better ways to identify liver cancer earlier when it is easier to treat.

Hepatitis B and C

The hepatitis B and C viruses can cause liver cancer. Because infection is common, liver cancer will remain a major public health threat. Fred Hutch researchers are studying several aspects of hepatitis B and C viruses, with the aim of preventing liver cancer. For example, they are studying how the viruses are transmitted and how they affect cancer patients with compromised immune systems. Our researchers are also developing new techniques to cure hepatitis infection using gene-editing techniques.

New Drug Targets

The hepatitis B and C viruses can cause liver cancer. Because infection is common, liver cancer will remain a major public health threat. Fred Hutch researchers are studying several aspects of hepatitis B and C viruses, with the aim of preventing liver cancer. For example, they are studying how the viruses are transmitted and how they affect cancer patients with compromised immune systems. Our researchers are also developing new techniques to cure hepatitis infection using gene-editing techniques.

Earlier Detection

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HCC is the third-most common cause of cancer-related death. High mortality rates stem in part from the difficulty of detecting HCC in its early stages. Hutch researchers are developing better ways to identify liver cancer earlier, when it is easier to treat.

New Drug Targets

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Decoding the molecular mechanisms of cancer cells, and how they go off track, can help researchers discover new drug targets. Hutch scientists work to pinpoint the critical genetic changes that promote liver cancer and learn how it so successfully evades surveillance. Their goal: translate discoveries into new therapeutic avenues for patients.

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

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The hepatitis B and C viruses cause liver cancer. Because infection is common, liver cancer will remain a major public health threat. Fred Hutch researchers are studying several aspects of hepatitis B and C viruses, with the aim of preventing liver cancer. For example, they are studying how the viruses are transmitted and how they affect cancer patients with compromised immune systems. Hutch researchers are also developing new techniques to cure hepatitis infection using gene-editing techniques.

Latest Liver Cancer News

MORE LIVER CANCER NEWS
Liver cancer researcher Dr. Abir Arfaoui named latest Brave Fellow Running community honors late athlete Gabe Grunewald by funding rare cancer research at Fred Hutch October 6, 2021
Cancer-busting broccoli sprout pills? It’s a thing. Translational scientist’s ‘green chemoprevention’ research extends from eastern China to Seattle and now, into space July 19, 2021
Shifting liver cancer cells away from migratory state could reduce their drug resistance Researchers hope lab-based study helps build foundation for personalized treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma August 4, 2020
Mourning Dr. Supriya 'Shoop' Saha, rising star in liver cancer research 'Truly gifted' physician-scientist made lasting impact in cholangiocarcinoma June 12, 2020
Last Modified, September 21, 2022