There are a number of tests that can help diagnose liver disease and identify  liver cancer. A blood test can detect if there is a problem with the function of your liver.  Methods of diagnosing and pinpointing liver cancer may include imaging such as an MRI or an angiogram. A further option is a biopsy. The tests your physician orders will depend on the symptoms you are experiencing, medical history and a number of other factors.

A physical examination may also indicate telling symptoms. A physical examination can show obvious signs that there is a problem with liver function. This includes yellowing of the skin (or jaundice) and swelling close to the liver.

Types of Tests

Blood tests can highlight raised levels of a protein known as alpha feto-protein, or AFP. High levels in the bloodstream can indicate certain types of cancer like hepatocellular carcinoma. Blood tests give a clearer idea of overall liver function.

An MRI produces clear images of all areas surrounding the organs and shows suspected tumors of the liver. Other imaging tests your doctor might suggest are a CT scan or an ultrasound.


There are two methods of conducting a biopsy. The first method involves inserting a fine needle into the liver so that the physician can get a tissue sample. Laboratory tests can then be carried out to see if the suspected tumor is benign or malignant. The second option is a laparoscopy biopsy. This involves a physician examining your liver through a laparoscope.

Treatment of Liver Cancer

With a firm diagnosis, your physician can get a better idea of the available treatment options. Surgical options may include a liver resection, removal of part of the tumor and part of the liver,  also known as a partial hepatectomy or a liver transplant. Your surgeon will explain and discuss the options which are most appropriate for you. The size of the tumor, whether it has spread, and your degree of liver function will help determine your course of treatment. Follow up treatments might consist of chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of the two.

Prognosis and Care

While being diagnosed with cancer of any kind is concerning, if it is caught early, the chances of recovery are promising. Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville has a team of board certified surgeons with specialist skills to offer diagnosis, pre-operative, post-operative and surgical oncology care to our patients. Visit our site to find out more about the expert care we provide.