If you have liver cancer/tumor, can half/part of your liver be removed?
In general, liver cancer/tumor means either the cancer/tumor has originated primarily in liver or it has spread to liver from other organs in body i.e. metastases or secondaries in liver. Treatment options of both are different.
Firstly, we will discuss about treatment options for primary liver cancers/tumors eg. hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (IHC), hepatoblastoma, etc. Treatment of this tumors/cancers will basically depend on factors like a) physiological performance status of the patient, b) underlying liver condition i.e. fibrotic liver, cirrhotic liver or normal liver and c) type and extent of tumor/cancer. Combination of these factors will determine what treatment can be best selected for a particular patient. Treatment options that are available are 1) Liver resection (removing part of liver) 2) Liver Transplant 3) Interventional Radiology procedures like TACE/TARE (trans-arterial chemoembolization/radioembolization) 4) Chemotherapy drugs eg. Sorafenib and 5) Palliative symptomatic care. Of all the above treatment options in a well selected patient, surgery (liver resection and liver transplant) has the best success rate with chance of cure.
Unlike other organs in the human body, liver has regenerative potential. Regeneration basically means the regrowth of a damaged tissue from the remaining organ tissue. In a healthy adult with underlying healthy liver, around 70-75% of diseased liver tissue can be resected or removed leaving behind around 25-30% of healthy remnant liver which would suffice as it can regenerate. For patients with underlying liver disease like fibrosis/cirrhosis, around 40% remnant liver would be required. This regenerative potential of liver allows surgical options like Hepatectomy/Liver Resection/Metastectomy of liver cancer to be done successfully. Same principle of liver regeneration is used in donating a part of liver in Donor Hepatectomy for Living Donor Liver Transplant surgery.
For metastatic liver tumors, treatment option can be Liver Resection, Liver Transplant, Metatstectomy, Radiofrequency Ablation, Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy depending on type, origin and extent of primary tumor.
So, to summarise YES, half or part of liver can be safely removed in well selected liver cancer patients