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Liver Metastasis (Secondary Liver Cancer)


Hepatic Metastases mean the spread of malignant tumors from other organs to the liver through the blood and lymph. They often come from cancer of the lungs (25.9%), stomach (56.9%), colon (21.4%), breast (4.4%), and pancreas (19.6%), where metastases in the liver are found in 50% of cases. If the tumor is found first in the liver, it is called primary liver cancer. Most malignant metastatic liver cancer is called secondary.

Why do many tumors metastasize into the liver?

The liver is one of the largest organs with essential functions. It produces bile and various proteins and enzymes. The liver is a powerful filter of the body from harmful substances: it cleans toxins up to 1.5 liters of blood in one minute.

The risk of metastasis in the liver exists in the cases of:

  • III or IV-stage cancer of the lung, stomach, intestine, pancreas, and other organs;
  • late diagnosis of primary cancer;
  • poor quality of treatment of primary cancer;
  • smoking, alcohol abuse.

Cancer cells with blood flow pass through the liver. Until a certain point, the immune system is holding back the hepatic metastases. Then they begin to grow and form a new tumor in the liver.

Symptoms of liver metastasis

In the early stages, liver cancer metastases do not manifest themselves. Then, the work of the liver gradually worsens as well as the patient's condition. The most common symptoms of liver metastasis:

  • weakness, fatigue;
  • fast weight loss without trying;
  • nausea, vomiting;
  • intestinal dysfunction, constipation, diarrhea;
  • reduced appetite;
  • increased heart rate;
  • fever;
  • pain under the right rib.

Of course, there is no reason to panic if you are only concerned about weakness, fever, and bloating from the whole list. The warning signs are:

  • persistent vomiting with blood,
  • fast unexplained weight loss,
  • black stools,
  • severe abdominal enlargement,
  • jaundice.

Any of these should be the reason for an immediate visit to the doctor.

How to diagnose liver cancer metastasis?

The examination may include various studies and analyses:

  • Ultrasound. The first diagnostic test, simple and informative.
  • Imaging methods. The study with a contrast agent is introduced into vessels. It helps to detect liver metastases and determine their size, quantity, and localization.
  • Biopsy. Most often used in cases when surgical treatment is recommended.
  • Blood tests, particularly on the level of hepatic enzymes.

It doesn't matter where the primary tumor originated. Cancer that metastasizes to the liver automatically means stage IV.

Where to get liver metastasis diagnosis and treatment?

Treatment of hepatic metastases

Modern German medicine offers innovative opportunities to detect any form of metastasized liver cancer in time, to carry out a complete diagnosis of the sickness.

The choice of treatment depends of:

  • number of metastases: whether they are single or multiple;
  • type of cancer.
  • the severity of liver and other organ disorders;
  • age and general condition of the patient.

The main methods of treatment for hepatic metastases are the same as for other oncological illnesses. Single or several small liver metastases can be operated on. Just 10-15% of patients can undergo radical surgery. Sometimes, а surgical operation is impossible (thrombosis, cirrhosis, etc.). Then non-surgical treatment methods are used:

  • Embolization. A special drug is injected into the vessel that feeds the tumor, which disrupts blood flow. The tumor does not receive nutrition and is destroyed.
  • Radiofrequency ablation. The effect on the tumor is by high-frequency alternating current. A special probe is inserted into the tumor under the control of computed tomography.
  • Microwave ablation. Destruction or reduction of the tumor by heat generated by microwaves. The treatment time depends on the size and number of tumors and can range from 30 minutes to two hours.
  • Chemoperfusion. Local chemotherapy, which is combined with chemoembolization. The drug is injected into the tumor through an arterial catheter. At the same time, healthy cells are protected from the harmful effects of drugs.
  • Cryodestruction. Destruction of malignant neoplasms by extremely low temperatures using liquid nitrogen.

Palliative chemotherapy and supportive symptomatic therapy are also used to treat patients with hepatic metastases.

The rich experience of doctors and high-tech equipment of German clinics allow for curing different forms of hepatic metastases. The main thing to success is early detection. Then the treatment of metastatic liver cancer can be limited to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and minimal surgery.

Check out our doctors who offer alternative liver metastasis treatment

Prof. Dr. med. Tho­mas Vogl
PD. Dr. med. Peter Reichardt
Helios Hospital Berlin-Buch
internal medicine, hematology, and oncology
Prof. Dr. Raimon Miralbell Izard
Teknon Medical Centre Barcelona
radiation oncology, radiology, nuclear and proton beams
Prof. Dr. med. Thorsten Bley
University Hospital Wurzburg
diagnostic and interventional radiology
Prof. Dr. med. Harald-Robert Bruch, MSc, PhD
Oncological and Haematological Praxis Clinic Bonn
gastroenterology, hepatology, infectious diseases, oncology, hematology, pain therapy and nutritionology
Dr. med. Gerhard Siebenhuner
Centre of Advanced Medicine Frankfurt am Main
holistic and regenerative medicine, biological cancer therapy and complementary oncology, anti-aging

The best German clinics for hepatic metastases treatment

Many clinics in different cities in Germany offer to take advantage of the treatment. For the convenience of patients, specialists of the company AiroMedical have developed comprehensive programs that consider all the needs of a person in a foreign country.

The opportunity to start treatment without torturous waiting allows the patient to focus on his health. Our database consists of hundreds of medical centers around the world. We would like to introduce the leading German clinics for the treatment of cancer metastasized to the liver:

University Hospital Charite Berlin

The world-known center of high-performance medicine. It is based not only on the treatment of patients but also on medical research. Specializing in oncology and hematology, leukemias, lymphomas, and solid tumors. Here are available the latest medical methods for cancer diagnosis. Almost 75.000 operations are performed every year.

University Hospital Frankfurt am Main

It is a multidisciplinary German clinic meeting high European standards. It is known far beyond Germany, thanks to the quality of medical services and the sensitivity of medical personnel. The clinic successfully performs the most complex operations with the help of a CyberKnife. The method is a narrowly directed beam of electrons that affect the tumor without touching healthy tissues.

Helios Hospital Berlin-Buch

The clinic is one of the three largest medical institutions in Germany. The hospital receives up to 50.000 inpatients and approximately 130.000 ambulatory patients each year.

Beta Clinic Bonn

It is one of the best clinics not only in Germany but also in Europe. Specialists have been trained in leading clinics in Europe and the USA. They are proficient in innovative methods of robotic surgery. This allows for successfully operating on patients with cancer at different stages.

University Hospital Rechts der Isar of the Technical University Munich

The hospital is one of the best in radiation oncology. The center specializes in proton-ion radiation therapy and other innovative radiotherapy.

Technical equipment with the latest technologies allows doctors to work on tumors with an accuracy of up to a millimeter. Medical centers in Germany annually receive hundreds of thousands of patients, providing them with comfortable conditions of stay and effective treatment.


  1. Cancer Research UK: What is secondary liver cancer?
  2. National Library of Medicine: Incidence and survival outcomes of
  3. Genoscience Pharma: Secondary Liver Cancer
  4. TCR: Incidence and survival outcomes of secondary liver cancer