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This is cancer that has started somewhere else in the body and has spread to the liver. The cause of a secondary cancer is always a primary cancer somewhere else in the body. If the cancer cells pass into the bloodstream, the liver is a likely place for them to settle.
The most common types of cancer that spread to the liver start in the bowel|, breast|, pancreas|, stomach|, lung|, ovary| or skin| (melanoma).
If you have secondary liver cancer you may find it helpful to read this section together with the section for your primary cancer (where the cancer started).
Sometimes, even with thorough medical tests, it’s not possible to find out where the cancer started. This is sometimes known as cancer of unknown primary|.
Occasionally cancer can start in the liver; this is known as primary liver cancer|. Primary liver cancer is relatively rare while secondary liver cancer is much more common.
Content last reviewed: 1 January 2013
Next planned review: 2015
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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