Liver Cancer (Primary)

Primary liver cancers begin in the liver. The various types include:

  • Cholangiocarcinoma - a slow-growing cancer that starts in the lining inside the liver or in the bile ducts outside the liver
  • Hepatoblastoma - more common in infants. Boys get the disease twice as often as girls. It sometimes occurs in older children and may produce hormones that result in early puberty.
  • Angiosarcoma - a rare cancer that starts in the blood vessels of the liver


Signs of primary liver cancers are often vague.

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden failing health
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the abdominal area

Causes and Risk Factors

In most cases of liver cancer, the cause is not known. Long-standing ulcerative colitis and scelerosing cholangitis can sometimes increase the chances of getting cholangiocarcinoma. Angiosarcoma can be caused by exposure to vinyl chloride or arsenic in the workplace.


Depending on the type, liver cancers can be diagnosed using one or more of the following:

  • A physical exam (doctors can sometimes feel a a large mass in the stomach area)
  • Biopsy (A small sample of liver tissue is taken for examination under the microscope.)
  • Special X-rays


Cedars-Sinai has access to the latest liver cancer treatment options.