The liver

The liver is the largest organ in the body. It’s in the upper part of the tummy (abdomen) on the right-hand side under your lower ribs. It’s surrounded by a strong fibrous capsule and is divided into two lobes (see diagram). 

Upper digestive system
Upper digestive system

View a large version

Read a description of this image



The liver carries out important functions, such as:

  • storing sugars and fats so they can be used for energy
  • producing proteins which help blood to clot, prevent too much bleeding and keep the balance of fluid in the body
  • producing bile which breaks down fats so they can be absorbed by the bowel (bile travels from the liver through the bile duct to the bowel)
  • breaking down harmful substances, such as alcohol and drugs, so they can be passed out in urine or stools.

The liver is good at repairing itself. It can work well even when only a small part of it is working normally.

Back to Understanding secondary liver cancer

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. These can divide to form a new tumour.