Liver surgeon Sean Cleary, M.D., answers the most frequently asked questions about liver cancer.

Ask Mayo Clinic: Liver Cancer

Sean P. Cleary, M.D., Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgeon, Mayo Clinic: Hi. I'm Dr. Sean Cleary, a liver surgeon at Mayo Clinic, and I'm here to answer some of the important questions you may have about liver cancer.

After I am diagnosed, how should I choose a care team?

When thinking about choosing a center for liver cancer treatment, you want to think about a center that treats a lot of liver cancer and that has all the members of a team required to treat your disease. This can include hepatologists or liver doctors, liver surgeons and transplant surgeons, and medical and radiation oncologists.

How can I be the best partner to my medical team?

One of the best ways to partner with your care team is to be engaged. Ask questions. Ask them about the treatment options available. Discuss the pros and cons and benefits of any proposed treatments. And together make a decision on what's best for you. Being informed makes all the difference.

How will my diagnosis affect my diet and lifestyle?

Once you've been diagnosed with liver cancer, we want to try and avoid things that might further damage the liver. And these can include alcohol and smoking. Otherwise, we want to try and be as healthy as possible by maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Do I need a biopsy?

Liver cancer is one of the cancers where we may not need a biopsy to make decisions about your care. Sometimes, liver cancer can be reliably diagnosed on imaging studies such as CT scans or MRIs. It's important to talk to your doctor and your medical team to determine whether a biopsy is necessary as part of your care plan.

Is chemotherapy or immunotherapy appropriate for me?

We've had a lot of exciting developments in the field of chemotherapy and immunotherapy for liver cancer. It's important to talk to your doctor and your medical team to determine whether chemotherapy or immunotherapy might be right as part of your treatment plan. Thanks for your time. And we wish you well.

April 28, 2023