Liver cancer

The liver is located just above the stomach in the upper torso area of the body.

The liver is the largest organ in the body and is responsible for storing sugars and fat, making sure they are broken down for the body to absorb these nutrients for energy. The liver is also very effective in breaking down harmful substances or toxins, so they don’t affect the rest of the body.

Rutherford Treatment Options

  • Proton Beam Therapy Available
  • Radiotherapy UnAvailable
  • Chemotherapy Available
  • Immunotherapy Available

Types of liver cancer

Liver cancer is the 18th most common cancer in the UK, and the risk of it occurring increases with age. There are two main types of liver cancer:

  • Primary liver cancer
  • Secondary liver cancer

Primary liver cancer
Cancer cells that begin initially within the liver are primary. There are three main types of primary liver cancer; these are called hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatomas and cholangiocarcinoma. These are often referred to as an HCC.

Secondary liver cancer
Secondary liver cancer (also referred to as metastatic cancer) is the more common type of cancer of the liver. It starts in other areas of the body but spreads to the liver via the bloodstream; this process is called metastases. Cancer cells are most likely to spread to the liver from areas of the body such as lungs, breasts, bowel, stomach and pancreas.


Symptoms caused by liver cancer will vary depending on its type and where in the liver it has occurred. Some people may have symptoms, whereas others may not experience any.

Early diagnosis will make treating liver cancer easier, so if you have any of the following symptoms, it is important to see your GP.

Here are some common symptoms that may be experienced:

  • Dark urine and paler stool
  • Lethargy or malaise
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen tummy

If you’d like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer
please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or

Liver cancer diagnosis

If your GP thinks you’re experiencing symptoms as a result of liver cancer, they will arrange for you to have a blood test and may send you to a for further diagnostics scans and tests. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the outcome of treatment will be.

Several tests and examinations can help diagnose liver cancer. Some may be carried out with your GP, and then you may be referred to a hospital or specialist for further scans or tests.

Ways a liver cancer can be diagnosed:

  • Blood tests carried out by a GP
  • Liver ultrasound
  • CT Scan
  • MRI scan
  • Liver biopsy
  • Liver function assessment – blood tests
MRI Diagnosis

Treating liver cancer with proton beam therapy

Treatment for liver cancer will often involve different treatment options, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy. The earlier it is diagnosed, the better the options will be for treatment.

Proton beam therapy can be used to treat liver cancer, usually when surgery isn’t a possibility or if the cancer hasn’t spread. The using of proton beam therapy will aim to shrink a tumour and kill the local cancer cells and help to reduce side effects. A consultant oncologist at the Rutherford will be able to discuss with you if your case of liver cancer will benefit from proton beam therapy.

The benefits of treating liver cancer with proton beam therapy

If proton beam therapy is an option for treating your liver cancer, then it is crucial to avoid delivering radiation to the sensitive surrounding tissues of the liver. Therefore, proton beam therapy can be an effective treatment option, as it is precisely controlled and targeted.

Using regular conventional radiotherapy to treat liver cancer can cause something called radiation-induced liver disease (RILD) that can do more harm than good. In some instances, proton beam therapy significantly reduces the risk of this, as it enters the body at a lower dose and delivers minimal radiation beyond the tumour.

An overview of how proton beam therapy works

Proton beam therapy is highly accurate in targeting a treatment area. It can be used to treat hard-to-reach tumours, while lowering radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue and vital organs.

Watch the video

Other treatment options for liver cancer

There are other treatment options that can be used to treat liver cancer, either before, after or alongside proton beam therapy. Please see other treatment options available at the Rutherford Cancer Centres below:





Further information & support

Being diagnosed with liver cancer and deciding on the best treatment can be daunting, for full details on liver cancer treatment options or to discuss a diagnosis, please contact our enquiries team. Our enquiries team will endeavour to help you assess your treatment options and advise which consultants could be best placed on planning your treatment pathway.

Macmillan Cancer Support offers a wide range of information and support, as well as help with your practical, emotional, and financial needs. All telephone helplines are free and confidential, and interpreting services are also available.

Freephone: 0808 808 00 00

(Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 8.00pm)


Get in Touch

If you'd like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or

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