The liver

The liver is the biggest organ in the body. It is in the upper part of the tummy (abdomen) on the right-hand side, under the lower ribs. It is surrounded by a strong fibrous capsule. It is divided into two lobes (see below).

The liver and surrounding organs
The liver and surrounding organs

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What the liver does

The liver:

  • stores sugars and fats, so they can be used for energy
  • makes different proteins that help the blood to clot, which prevents bleeding and maintains fluid balance in the body
  • makes bile, which helps breaks down fats so they can be absorbed by the body
  • breaks down harmful substances, so they cannot harm other parts of the body

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 primary liver cancer

What is cancer?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment.

Types of primary liver cancer

Primary liver cancer is rare but increasing in the UK. The most common type is called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).