Surgery for Liver Cancer

Minimally Invasive Approach

At Scott & White, the majority of operations are performed with minimally invasive techniques. Benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Better cosmetic result
  • Quicker recovery times, allowing you to:
    • Return to your daily routine sooner
    • Begin future treatment sooner
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Fewer complications

Not all patients are candidates for a minimally invasive approach. Factors affecting the decision to use minimally invasive techniques include:

  • Tumor size, stage or location
  • Patient obesity and health
  • Prior surgeries

Note: This web content focuses on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of primary liver cancer.

Your physician team may recommend the surgical removal of all or part of your liver. Your team may recommend other treatments in addition to surgery. At Scott & White, we use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible and appropriate, based on your condition.

At Scott & White, treatment goals for liver cancer generally are centered on liver-preserving treatments. Our philosophy is to preserve as much of your liver as possible.

Surgical Procedures

Your operation may be performed using one of the following methods:

  • A traditional open approach
  • Traditional laparoscopic surgery

Your physician will discuss which option is best for you.

Partial Hepatectomy/Liver Resection

In this procedure, your surgical oncologist will remove your tumor and part of your liver. Your surgeon may remove a wedge or an entire lobe, leaving behind enough healthy liver to function normally.

Other Minimally Invasive Treatments

“Whenever possible, we prefer to surgically remove hepatocellular cancer. Some patients with advanced cirrhosis do not have healthy enough livers for surgery. However, we have other treatment options available at Scott & White, including tumor ablation and chemoembolization,” says Matthew Bower, MD, Surgical Oncologist.

Tumor Ablation

This minimally invasive approach uses microwave or radiofrequency energy to in effect burn your tumor. Your radiologist or surgeon will insert a needle into your tumor through a small incision in your skin. Heat will be transmitted through the tip of the needle to your tumor, thereby killing the tumor.  In most cases, you will stay overnight in the hospital.


Chemoembolization is a procedure that prevents your hepatic artery from supplying the tumor with blood. Your interventional radiologist will insert a narrow tube (catheter) into the artery in your leg. He or she will inject a substance into your artery that blocks the flow of blood into the area of your liver containing the tumor. This blockage deprives the tumor of oxygen and other substances so it will no longer grow.

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