Are all cancers in the liver liver cancer?
One of the commonest misconceptions regarding primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) is that it is the only cancer that can occur in the liver. In fact, it is much less common than secondary liver cancers. They are malignant tumors that originated elsewhere in the body, commonly in the gastrointestinal tract, and then traveled by blood to settle in the liver and grow there. This is of utmost importance to doctors and patients, since when a cancer has spread to the liver from the colon for example, it usually means that such tumor is now unresectable, and that surgery is no longer an option for such patient.
The main differentiating point between primary and secondary liver cancers is that secondary liver cancer usually causes multiple lesions while hepatocellular carcinoma is usually solitary. That does not mean that secondary liver tumors are untreatable, and chemotherapy is usually effective against such lesions. In fact, if only one lesion is present in the case of colon cancer, it can still be resectable surgically, improving the general outcome.