A partial hepatectomy, or liver resection, is a type of surgery designed to remove cancerous tumors from the liver. Because this organ has the remarkable capacity to regenerate itself, it can sometimes restore its mass to compensate for tissue lost through surgery. A liver resection may be recommended to address colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver and help prevent further metastasis.
To determine whether a patient is a candidate for a partial hepatectomy, a physician will usually consider:
- The extent of the cancer – Large or multiple liver tumors, as well as tumors that affect multiple lobes of the liver, can complicate or preclude surgical removal.
- The location of the tumors – Liver tumors that are situated close to blood vessels may be inoperable; alternative treatments may include intra-arterial chemotherapy and chemoembolization.
- The extent of the surgery that would be required to remove all of the tumor – A significant portion of healthy liver tissue must remain after surgery in order for the organ to function properly and regenerate.
- The overall function of the organ – Patients with impaired liver function resulting from cirrhosis generally cannot tolerate a partial hepatectomy.
- The patient’s overall health – A patient must be healthy enough to undergo surgery and the rehabilitation period that follows.
In the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, our surgeons are highly skilled in performing innovative surgical techniques, including laparoscopic liver tumor removal, for treating patients with all stages of liver cancer. In collaboration with the other members of our multi-disciplinary team, a surgeon can assess whether a partial hepatectomy designed to completely remove the cancerous areas of a patient’s liver would potentially leave behind enough healthy liver tissue to ensure proper function.
Even if Moffitt’s tumor board initially determines that a partial hepatectomy is not possible for a patient due to the extent of the cancer, we can recommend an alternative plan that is better suited to the patient’s needs. For instance, following a combination of chemotherapy to shrink a tumor and portal vein embolization to promote liver "growth" prior to surgery, our surgeons may be able to successfully remove a previously inoperable tumor from the patient’s liver.