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Liver Metastasis – The Secondary Liver Cancer

Liver metastasis is also known as secondary liver cancer or stage IV cancer of the liver. In this condition the cancer spreads to the liver which originated in another part of the body. Liver metastasis is the most common type of liver cancers. In metastatic liver, the tumor cells found are the cancer cells from the primary site of cancer.

Cancer cells, having the tendency to spread aggressively, travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system and attack nearby tissues or other regions of the body. Because of the liver's rich blood supply and body fluids promoting cell growth, liver provides a platform for metastatic spread.

Metastasis of liver can spread to any region of the liver. People can get any number of liver metastasis in the lobes of the liver, sometimes only one liver metastasis may be present. The most common types of cancer that causes liver metastasis are:

  • Colon Cancers
  • Cancer of the Rectum
  • Pancreatic Cancers
  • Stomach Cancers
  • Esophagus Cancers
  • Breast Cancers
  • Lung Cancers
  • Melanoma
  • Ovarian Cancers
  • Neuroendocrine Cancers

The risk of metastatic spread depends on the actual site of the cancer. Gastrointestinal cancers usually spread to the liver because the blood supply from the intestine directly drains through the liver.

Process of Metastasis: The metastasis is a six steps process, which includes:

  • Local invasion: Cancer cells from the site of origin, grow and attack nearby healthy tissues.
  • Intravasation: In this step, the cancer cells proceed through the walls of nearby lymph nodes and blood vessels.
  • Circulation: Cancer cells travel through the lymphatic system and the bloodstream to other regions of the body.
  • Arrest and extravasation: At the distant location, the cancer cells stop moving and attack nearby tissues through small blood vessels.
  • Proliferation: The cancer cells create tumors which are small in size called micrometastasis.
  • Angiogenesis: The small tumor’s triggers the development of new blood vessels, supplying oxygen and the nutrients for tumor growth.

Symptoms of liver metastasis

Liver metastasis may not show any noticeable symptoms in the beginning as the liver can function normally even if it contains cancer. Symptoms of metastasis spread differ depending on the location and number of tumors in the liver. When the tumor advances in the liver, there is inflammation of the liver causing obstruction to the blood and bile flow. At this stage, an individual may have symptoms such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Dark colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Ascites
  • Swelling of the ankles

Test for liver metastasis diagnosis:

Your doctor will advise you to undergo blood tests and liver function test. And to get a clear picture of tissue damage due to liver metastasis, the doctor may suggest CT scan, ultrasound, MRI or PET scan. Other diagnostics for liver metastasis include: angiogram and liver biopsy.


Treatment of Liver Metastasis:

In liver metastasis, as the cancer spreads from another part of the body, a right approach may help reduce the symptoms and increase life expectancy. The treatment approach depends upon:

  • The Age
  • The type of primary cancer
  • The number and size of metastatic tumors in the liver
  • The spread of cancer cells around the liver
  • Overall health condition.

The treatment plan for liver metastasis includes:

  • Chemotherapy - It is used when the cancer has spread in the liver and other parts of the body. Chemotherapy helps, reduce the growth of cancer cells or shrink the tumor before surgery or kill the cancer cells to stop its spread to other parts of the body.
  • Targeted Therapy - This therapy uses drugs to stop or slow the growth and spread of cancer cells by blocking the growth substances.
  • Ablation Therapy - This therapy involves heat, chemicals or electricity to remove or destroy cancer cells or tissues of liver metastasis
  • Liver Resection - In liver metastasis, this method of surgery is used to remove one or few areas of the liver which is attacked by cancer cells.
  • Radiation Therapy - Radiation therapy targets liver tumors to lower the risk of liver damage.
  • Hormonal Therapy - This type of therapy acts on cancer cells that requires hormones for growth
  • Liver Transplantation - Transplant is a treatment option in conditions where the liver tumor is too big to be removed from the body, the liver tumor is hard to be removed and if many tumors have spread all over the liver.



Rela Institute and Medical Centre, established with the aim to provide exceptional patient care, provides advanced treatment options in the field of oncology. RIMC has the world's largest liver ICU, dedicated liver ambulance, 24/7 liver helpline and highly experienced team, making it one of the best liver cancer treatment hospitals in Chennai.

Patients at RIMC are evaluated accurately and receive the most appropriate treatment by our doctors, who are the top liver cancer specialists in the region. With all the three major departments of cancer care - medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation therapy under one roof, Rela Institute is the destination for patients with liver metastasis.

Wide range of treatment options are available to treat metastatic liver cancer; however liver transplant is the most successful method used to save patients with advanced liver cancers. Under the visionary - Dr. Mohamed Rela, RIMC has the most competent liver transplantation surgeons in India.

RIMC is conveniently located by all means of transport – by road, by rail and by air. Would you have any queries, please call us on +91-9384681770




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