The Facts About Liver Cancer

Dr. Michell Shiffman of Bon Secours' Liver Institute of Virginia

Dr. Michell Shiffman of Bon Secours' Liver Institute of Virginia

Liver cancer can develop in any patient with cirrhosis. In addition, patients with chronic hepatitis B can develop liver cancer in the absence of cirrhosis if they have very high levels of hepatitis B virus in the blood.  It is therefore important that all patients with cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis B undergo screening tests for liver cancer on a regular basis. This is best performed by certain blood tests and an ultrasound of the liver. If the blood tests or ultrasound suggest that a liver cancer may have developed additional testing by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is required.

Screening for liver cancer in patients with cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis B virus is important because finding liver cancer early, when it is still small and before it has spread outside of the liver, offers the best chance to cure the liver cancer and provide effective treatment.

Various treatments for liver cancer are available. The specific treatment depends upon the size of the cancer.  Small liver cancers can be cured by ablation. This is when material is injected into the cancer to kill it. Larger liver cancers, especially when cirrhosis is present, can also be cured with liver transplant. However, if the cancer is too large or has spread outside the liver the cancer will recur and the liver transplant will not be successful. These larger cancers can be treated with a combination of embolization and a new oral chemotherapy agent.

Dr. Shiffman has over 2 decades of experience in managing patients with liver cancer. Embolization procedures for small or large cancers are available through at the Liver Institute of Virginia. Patients in whom liver transplant is an option can undergo testing to evaluate them as a candidate for liver transplant at the Liver Institute of Virginia before being referred to a liver transplant center.

+ Learn about The Liver Institute of Virginia
+ Find out about the clinical studies at the Liver Institute of Virginia
+ Read more articles about liver health

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About Dr.MLShiffman

Dr. Mitchell Shiffman is the Bon Secours expert on liver disease and liver treatments for Virginia. Prior to joining Bon Secours, Dr. Shiffman was a professor of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, VA. He was the Chief of the Hepatology Section and Medical Director of the Liver Transplant Program at the VCU Medical Center from 1989 until 2009. During his 20 years at the VCU Medical Center Dr. Shiffman built and directed one of the most respected and productive hepatology programs in the United States. Dr. Shiffman is recognized as one of the world’s leaders in the field of Hepatology. His particular area of research is viral hepatitis. He has been involved with and/or directed numerous clinical trials to develop new and better treatments for viral hepatitis B and C. Dr. Shiffman is a regular speaker on the treatment of viral hepatitis, the management of various liver disorders, and issues related to liver transplantation at regional, national and international society meetings. He has published over 200 articles in medical journals related to the treatment of liver diseases and has edited two books on this topic. In addition, he has contributed to various HCV educational resources including an HCV educational kit. Dr. Shiffman is also a widely recognized expert consultant to pharmaceutical companies on the treatment of liver disease. Dr. Shiffman holds a Bachelor of Arts from State University of New York at Buffalo, a Master of Science in physiology from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, N.M. and his Doctor of Medicine from State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine and fellowship training in gastroenterology and hepatology at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals in Richmond, VA. Dr. Shiffman is a member of many professional organizations including: the American College of Gastroenterology, American College of Physicians, the American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Society of Transplantation, European Association for the Study of the Liver, International Liver Transplantation Society, Richmond Academy of Medicine, Virginia Medical Society and the Virginia Gastrointestinal Society. He was a member of the Board of Trustees with the American College of Gastroenterology from 2003-2009.

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