Liver and bile duct tumours

The liver is a vital organ with numerous functions. It produces bile, filters the blood, stores glucose and produces substances essential for maintaining equilibrium in the body.


For nearly 30 years, our teams at the Eugène Marquis Centre have worked closely with international partners and scientific publications to achieve significant developments in the treatment of such tumours in various areas, including targeted therapies, radioembolisation, intra-arterial therapy, stereotactic radiotherapy and immunotherapy.


Liver tumours come in two forms: primitive (originating in the liver) and secondary (metastatic tumours).

The medical oncology, interventional radiology, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy teams at the Eugène Marquis Centre have international expertise in the treatment of primitive liver tumours. Doctors at the Centre participate in two weekly multidisciplinary team meetings with their colleagues at Rennes University Teaching Hospital to discuss cases of liver cancer (hepatocarcinoma) and bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma).


Various tests can be used to diagnose liver cancer:

Initially, an ultrasound may be carried out to examine suspicious masses or liver nodules.

Further tests are required to confirm the presence of cancer, such as a CT scan of the thorax, abdomen and pelvis.An MRI may also be carried out to check whether the tumour has spread to the blood vessels of the liver. The state of the liver and its capacity to function need to be carefully examined and the organ checked for diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis. A blood test is performed to measure the level of proteins produced by the liver (such as prothrombin and albumin). Low protein production is a sign that there is a problem with liver function.

An oesophagogastroduodenoscopy is carried out to check for varices in the oesophagus and stomach, which are indicative of disease in the liver.

Once the tumour has been identified, various techniques may be used to remove it:

  • Partial removal of the liver is possible if the liver is still functioning correctly
  • If the liver is not functioning correctly due to cirrhosis, a liver transplant may be performed
  • Small tumours, depending on their location, may be destroyed through the skin.


    Liver cancer is most common if the patient has already contracted a disease such as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis has various causes: overconsumption of alcohol, hepatitis B and C and, occasionally, excess stores of iron and fat in the liver.
    Liver cancer is often asymptomatic, meaning that it can develop without any external signs. Given that it is most common after other forms of liver disease, such as cirrhosis, regular follow-ups are carried out to keep an eye on liver health. Without regular check-ups, liver cancer is difficult to detect.