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Your child can get the very latest treatments for liver tumors at Seattle Children's.

Many children receive more than one type of liver cancer treatment. Your child's treatment for a liver tumor will depend on the stage of the disease. Stage relates to how far the cancer has spread and how well doctors were able to remove it through surgery. Your child's doctor can explain the stage of your child's disease.

Some children with liver tumors have surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy. Most children need chemotherapy before surgery, too, to shrink the tumor. This makes it easier to remove.

Seattle Children's offers all these treatments.

Liver Cancer Treatment Options

Surgery

When they can, doctors remove liver tumors using surgery. They may need to remove only part of the liver to get rid of the cancer. This is called a partial hepatectomy. Most children have this type of surgery.

In very rare cases, doctors need to remove the entire liver and transplant a healthy liver from a donor into the child.

If your child needs a liver transplant, doctors will give other treatments for your child's cancer until they can find a donor. Learn more about Seattle Children's Liver Transplant Program.

If your child's liver cancer has spread to other places in the body, doctors may use surgery to remove this cancer, too.

Chemotherapy

If your child has liver cancer, your child's doctors may suggest chemotherapy as the main treatment or they may suggest using it before, during or after other treatments.

Doctors sometimes use chemotherapy before surgery to shrink tumor size. They may also use it after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain in the child's body.

For liver cancer, children get anti-cancer medicines, or chemotherapy, through a vein. These medicines spread around the body through the bloodstream. They can help kill cancer cells that are in the blood as well as those that may have spread to other places.

The exact mix of medicines and how long they are given depend on the type of disease your child has.

Researchers are studying new mixes of medicines to find the best combination for each type of the disease.

Our patients receive chemotherapy at our hospital's main campus in Seattle – most often in the hospital but sometimes in a clinic as outpatients.

Doctors use a medicine-based treatment called chemoembolization for liver tumors. They inject an anti-cancer medicine into the artery that carries blood to the liver.

The shot also contains a substance that blocks the artery. This way most of the medicine stays near the tumor. At the same time, the tumor cannot get oxygen and nutrients to grow. Other blood vessels continue to carry blood to the rest of the liver.

New treatments for liver cancer

Researchers are looking for better treatments for children with liver tumors. They are studying the best combinations of chemotherapy medicines.

Children's Hospital takes part in studies like these as part of the Children's Oncology Group (COG). COG is an international organization of childhood cancer specialists who conduct studies on many forms of childhood cancer.

Many of our patients with liver tumors take part in clinical trials. These research studies give children the chance to get the very latest treatment options being studied – options that are not offered at all treatment centers.

Your child's doctor will talk with you in detail about any new treatment that might be a match for your child. Then you can decide whether you want to try this option.

Read more about research at Seattle Children's and about follow-up after treatment ends.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)