Explore This Clinic

Advanced Diagnostics and Comprehensive Evaluation 

The Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital provides advanced diagnostics to evaluate liver lesions for HCC and specialized care and treatment for patients with hepatocellular (liver cell) cancer.

HCC occurs most commonly in individuals with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis and hepatitis. It is important that individuals with chronic liver disease are screened regularly as symptoms such as abdominal pain, weight loss, fever and jaundice are not experienced with very small liver tumors. Additionally, early detection and treatment can improve a patient’s outcome. A liver biopsy may be recommended to verify an HCC diagnosis.

At the Mass General HCC Clinic, we obtain images of the liver through leading edge, noninvasive procedures. These include:

  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Fibroscan®, also called transient elastography, a non-invasive method to assess for liver stiffness or scarring

Coordinated, Multidisciplinary Care

The HCC team meets weekly to review cases and recommend a treatment approach personalized to the patient’s condition. Some patients with HCC are candidates for a liver transplantation. Our clinic focuses on care provided by hepatologists, who are members of the liver transplant team. 

HCC treatment options include:

  • Liver resection: Removal of  the part of the liver that contains cancer
  • Locoregional therapies to destroy the tumor cells, including radiofrequency ablation (RFA), transarterial chemoembolization and ethanol ablation
  • Radiation or proton beam therapy
  • Systemic chemotherapy: Sorafenib, available as a pill, is used in advanced cases of HCC where the other treatments are not options
  • Liver transplantation: Removal of the entire liver and replacement with a donated organ

The Patient Experience

If you have been diagnosed with HCC, or need an evaluation to determine if you have HCC, your first visit to the clinic will include:

  • A thorough review of your medical history
  • A complete physical examination
  • Meeting members of your care team. The practitioners you meet will be determined by the specifics of your case as outlined by your primary care physician (PCP)

After your complete evaluation, your multidisciplinary team will determine which treatment is best for you. This recommendation will be discussed with you either the day of your clinic visit or after any additional testing that might be required. Additional tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Radiographic studies such as an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI
  • Liver biopsy may be recommended to confirm your diagnosis

During your evaluation, your care team will fully address any questions you have. The recommendations of the care team will be outlined in a letter that will be sent to your local specialists, your PCP and any other health care provider you would like.

After your initial appointment, you will continue to be followed by members of your multidisciplinary care team—typically one of our hepatologists and a medical oncologist. Every effort will be made to coordinate these visits, and the frequency of your visits will be determined by your specific circumstances.

Clinical Trials

As an academic medical center, Mass General promotes research and clinical trials to understand diseases and develop new approaches in treatment. Our doctors are leaders within their respective fields and collaborate with colleagues in various departments across the hospital. As a patient, you can benefit from shared expertise, leading research, and our commitment to quality and excellence.

The Mass General Liver Center and Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Tumors have many studies to monitor patients with chronic liver disease and to study new treatments for HCC. Depending on your circumstances, you may have an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial. Your care team can discuss relevant options with you.

Request an Appointment

To request an appointment or to refer a patient with either diagnosed or suspected HCC, please contact the Liver Center at (617) 724-6006, or one of the cancer access nurses at (877) 789-6100.

Patients should call their referring doctor’s office to request that all pertinent records are faxed prior to their appointment.

Referring Physicians

It is very important that we receive slides from all previous liver biopsies and a CD with previous radiologic studies either before or on the day of your patient’s appointment. This will allow the patient to get the most out of his/her visit to the HCC Clinic.

HCC Team