Liver cancer

Liver cancer

What is liver cancer?

Liver cancer is cancer that starts in the cells of the liver. There are two main types: hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma.

HCC starts from the main cells in the liver (hepatocytes), and is the most common type of primary liver cancer. Cholangiocarcinoma starts in the cells lining the bile duct.

Cancer can also spread to the liver from another part of the body. This is called secondary liver cancer.

Read more about liver cancer.


Liver cancer symptoms

Primary liver cancer usually has no symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms usually appear when the cancer has advanced. Symptoms for secondary cancer in the liver are similar and may include:

  • weakness and tiredness (fatigue)
  • pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • swelling of the abdomen (ascites)
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

Read more about the symptoms of liver cancer.


Liver cancer statistics

  • About 1,400 people in Australia are diagnosed with primary liver cancer each year
  • Liver cancer is more than twice as common in men as women, and in people over 65.
  • Secondary cancer in the liver occurs about 20 times more often than primary liver cancer.
  • About 28,000 people in Australia are diagnosed with secondary cancer in the liver every year.


The aim of this information is to help you understand about liver cancer. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.