To destroy body tissue, usually with heat or cold. Thermal ablation uses radiowaves (RFA) or microwaves to produce heat. Cryotherapy uses cold to freeze tissue.
Stands for alpha-fetoprotein protein. A protein that is usually not found in adult blood samples. Raised AFP in the blood may mean you have a primary liver cancer.
Type of targeted (biological) therapy. A drug that stops a cancer growing its own blood vessels. This helps to stop a tumour from getting food and oxygen from your blood.
Fluid collecting around the organs in your tummy (abdomen). Can be a symptom of advanced liver disease.
A way of grouping hepatocellular liver cancers (HCC). It includes the number and size of tumours in your liver, your general health (performance status) and how well your liver is working. See also Child-Pugh and Staging.
A type of targeted therapy, sometimes called a biologic.
A sample of body tissue that is examined for signs of disease.
A way of grouping perihilar bile duct cancers. It helps your surgeon plan the surgery you need, according to where the cancer is in the bile ducts.
Treatment to block the blood supply to a cancer. See also TACE and TARE.
A disease caused by a type of body cell becoming abnormal and growing uncontrollably.
A type of treatment that delivers chemotherapy directly to a tumour and then blocks the tumour’s blood supply to seal it in. Also called TACE.
Treatment with anti-cancer drugs that attack and kill dividing (growing) cells. Cancer cells divide more often than normal cells, so are more likely to be killed.
A system to measure how well the liver is working. It includes results of blood tests, whether you have fluid in your tummy (abdomen) and whether your liver disease is affecting you mentally. A score of A is normal, B means some liver damage, and C a lot of liver damage.
Another name for bile duct cancer.
Stands for Computerised Tomography. A computer brings together a series of X-rays (taken like slices through the body) to form pictures of body organs.
A test using sound waves (ultrasound) where the ultrasound probe is attached to the end of an endoscope. The endoscopy tube goes down your throat and the doctor takes the scan from inside your body. See also Endoscopy.
A test that examines the inside of the digestive system. An endoscope is a long tube with an eyepiece at one end and a light and camera at the other. You have a sedative and then swallow the tube. The doctor can see the inside of your stomach and small bowel through the eye piece.
Stands for Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography. A test to examine your bile ducts from inside your body, using a long tube that goes down your throat. The doctor can take samples from any abnormal looking areas. See also Endoscopy.
Means outside the liver. Some bile duct cancers are ‘extrahepatic’ because they grow in the bile ducts that connect the liver to the gallbladder and small bowel.
A type of cancer that starts in liver cells. Sometimes called a type of hepatocellular cancer (HCC). More often diagnosed in younger people who don’t have any other type of liver disease.
Genes are made of DNA. They carry information for making proteins and control how your body looks and works. Mistakes (mutations) in genes can lead to diseases, including cancer. The mistakes can be inherited, or caused by environmental damage, such as smoking. But often they just happen by chance.
Grade means how abnormal or normal cancer cells look under a microscope. The more abnormal they look, the higher the grade. High grade cancers are likely to grow more quickly than low grade.
Literally means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A, B and C are diseases caused by viruses. Long term infection with Hepatitis B or C can cause liver damage and increase risk of liver cancer.
A type of cancer that starts in liver cells (primary liver cancer). Often called HCC.
A hormone made by the pancreas that controls blood sugar levels. Body cells can become resistant to insulin, particularly if you’re overweight or eat a diet high in fat and sugar. Insulin resistance can increase risk of fatty liver disease and cancer.
Means inside the liver. Some bile duct cancers are ‘intrahepatic’ because they grow in bile ducts that are inside the liver.
Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. May be caused by a blocked bile duct or advanced liver disease.
Short for monoclonal antibody. Type of targeted therapy drug.
Short for multi-disciplinary team. Group of medical experts who meet to discuss a patient’s test results and decide on the best treatment.
Tests done on cancer cells, to find genetic mistakes (mutations) that might be targets for treatment.
Stands for Magnetic Resonance Cholangio Pancreatography. A type of MRI scan that looks closely at the bile ducts, gallbladder, pancreas and the first part of the small bowel (duodenum).
Stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. A type of scan that uses strong magnets to create pictures of the inside of the body.
Mistakes in genes that mean they don’t work properly. Usually a cell needs to have several mutations before it becomes cancerous.
Stands for Non-Alcohol Related Fatty Liver Disease. A type of liver disease caused by a build up of fat in the liver. Related to diet and usually seen in people who are overweight. Having NAFLD increases risk of liver cancer.
Stands for Positron Emission Tomography. You have an injection of a tiny amount of sugar labelled with radiation. Active cells (like cancer cells) take up the most sugar, which shows on the scan. It can help doctors to tell the difference between old scar tissue (inactive) and cancer (active).
Primary biliary cholangitis
A disease caused by your immune system attacking and damaging the liver. Relatively rare but more common in middle aged and older women.
Where a cancer starts growing is the primary cancer. So a primary liver cancer started when liver cells became cancerous.
Stands for Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography. A test where the doctor puts a needle through the skin and into the bile ducts. They inject dye, which shows up blockages on X-ray, and can take tissue samples or put in a tube (stent) to drain bile.
A type of radiotherapy using short-acting radioactive beads. The doctor puts the beads in blood vessels that supply a liver tumour. The beads block the tumour’s blood supply, sealing in the radiation, which lasts around 2 weeks. Also called TARE or SIRT.
Another name for stereotactic radiotherapy.
Treatment with radiation. Cells that are dividing (growing) are more likely to be killed by radiation. Cancer cells divide more often than normal cells, so are more likely to be killed.
Means a cancer has come back.
Surgery to remove something – in HCC, removing part of the liver.
Stands for Radio Frequency Ablation. Treatment to destroy cancerous tissue with heat produced by radio waves.
Pronounced ‘sabre’ – another name for stereotactic radiotherapy.
Where a cancer has spread to. A cancer that started in the bowel and then spread to the liver is a secondary liver cancer. The cells are cancerous bowel cells and will respond to bowel cancer treatments.
Another name for radioembolization – blocking a tumour’s blood supply with radioactive beads. Also called TARE.
Means the size of a cancer and whether it has spread.
Tests to work out the size of a cancer and whether it has spread to lymph nodes (glands) or elsewhere in the body.
A small plastic or metal pipe, doctors use to keep a blocked tube open, for example a bile duct or blood vessel.
A type of highly targeted external radiotherapy. Beams are directed at a tumour from several different directions. The doctor targets the cancer very precisely, avoiding normal tissue to reduce side effects. Because the beams are so precisely targeted, the doctor can use higher energy radiation to try and cure a cancer. Also called SABR, SBR, radiosurgery and gamma knife.
Stands for Trans Arterial Chemo Embolization. Combines chemotherapy with blocking a tumour’s blood supply to starve it of food and oxygen.
Stands for Trans Arterial Radio Embolization. Combines localized radiotherapy with blocking a tumour’s blood supply to starve it of food and oxygen. See Radioembolization.
Type of drug treatment for cancer. These drugs target the results of the genetic differences (mutations) in cancer cells that help them grow. There are several different types, including drugs that block cancer cell growth, stop tumours growing blood vessels or find cancer cells and help the immune system kill them.
Stands for Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor. A type of targeted therapy. These drugs blocks proteins that cancer cells make to encourage them to grow. You have a molecular profile test, to see if your cancer cells make the protein that the drug targets.
Stands for Tumour, Node, Metastasis. The commonest system doctors use to stage cancers, but used less often for liver cancers. T is the size of the cancer, N shows whether there are cancer cells in lymph nodes. Metastasis means cancer spread to another part of the body. See also Stage and Staging.
Another word for things that are poisonous. Being exposed to toxins can help to cause cancer. Cigarette smoke is a toxin.
A lump caused when a single type of body cell multiplies more than it should. Tumours can be non cancerous (benign) or cancerous.
Substances found in your blood that might indicate a tumour.
Type of scan using sound waves to produce a picture of the inside of the body.