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There are different types of primary liver cancer. They’re usually named after the types of cells the cancer has developed from. Knowing the exact type of liver cancer you have helps the doctors decide on the most appropriate treatment.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer. It’s sometimes known as hepatoma and affects the main cells of the liver called hepatocytes. HCC is usually confined to the liver, although occasionally it spreads to other organs. It’s more common in men and occurs mostly in people with a type of liver disease called cirrhosis|.
A rare sub-type of HCC called fibrolamellar HCC can occur in younger people and isn’t related to previous liver disease.
This type of cancer starts in the cells that line the bile duct and is sometimes called bile duct cancer. Cholangiocarcinoma| is more common in women than in men.
There are two rare types of primary liver cancer:
Some primary tumours in the liver are benign (non-cancerous). They are usually small and may not cause symptoms. They are often discovered by chance during operations or investigations for other conditions. Unless they are causing symptoms, they don’t usually need to be removed. Benign liver tumours do not turn into cancer.
The information here is about the more common type of primary liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or hepatoma. We also have information about:
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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