Cancer Types

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Liver and Bile Duct Cancers

Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells (a malignant tumor) that can begin in the cells of the liver, bile duct, or surrounding organs. The vast majority of these tumors are malignant and can invade surrounding tissues and spread to other areas of the body. The liver is also a common site of metastases, spreading from other parts of the body, particularly gastrointestinal, lung, and breast cancers.

Liver and bile duct cancers we treat:

A team approach to liver and bile duct cancer care

The UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute liver and bile duct cancer care team includes surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, genetic counselors, psychologists, nurses, social workers, dietitians, and others.

Team members meet as a group each week to review imaging, pathology, and other matters unique to each patient. Together, they consider and discuss a patient's type of cancer, how advanced it is, and other conditions or personal matters that may impact treatment recommendations. Members follow National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines in developing treatment plans.

This team also includes a coordinator who helps guide patients through the ins and outs of cancer treatment and coordinates their initial appointment.

Appointments and locations

Contact the coordinator to schedule appointments or ask questions beforehand. We’ll work to schedule all of your appointments at the same time to make your care easier and more convenient. Most services will be at the Cancer Center and Research Institute in the Jackson Medical Mall, but we also provide cancer care on the main campus at University Hospital and the University Physicians Pavilion.

  • For appointments or questions, call our hepatobiliary cancer coordinator at (601) 984-5590.

Treatment options

UMMC is the only institution in the state performing liver transplants for selected cases of primary liver cancer. We offer leading-edge technology and treatment for hepatobiliary cancer, including surgery, transplant, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and clinical trials, when appropriate.

 Support services

Cancer can take an emotional toll on you and your family, and our job is to help you through it. Whether you need financial assistance, advice, counseling, referral to a support group, or any other social or medical services, your nurse coordinator can quickly connect you to the care you’re looking for.

Liver and bile duct cancer stages

Before treatment begins, the team determines the type of cancer and how far it has progressed. If the cancer has moved beyond the point where it started, doctors say it has metastasized. How advanced the cancer is and how far it has spread will help determine the recommended treatment plan.

Types of liver and bile duct cancers

Definitions provided by the website of the National Cancer Institute (

Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)

A rare cancer that forms in the bile ducts. A bile duct is a tube that carries bile (fluid made by the liver) between the liver and gallbladder and then on to the small intestine. Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is found inside the liver. Extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is found outside the liver. Also called bile duct cancer.

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Gallbladder cancer

Cancer that forms in tissues of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ below the liver that collects and stores bile (a fluid made by the liver to digest fat). Gallbladder cancer begins in the innermost layer of tissue and spreads through the outer layers as it grows.

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Hepatocellular carcinoma

A type of adenocarcinoma and the most common type of liver tumor. This is considered a primary liver cancer, which starts in the tissue of the liver.

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Liver cancer

The liver has many important functions in the body. For example, it cleans toxins from the blood, makes bile that helps digest fat, makes substances that help blood clot, and makes, stores, and releases sugar for energy. Primary liver cancer is cancer that forms in the tissues of the liver. Secondary liver cancer is cancer that spreads to the liver from another part of the body.

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Liver metastases (secondary liver cancer)

Liver metastases occur when a cancer has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the liver.

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