Liver metastases

If you have (had) colorectal cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, or skin cancer, you may develop metastases in the liver. Approximately 50% of colorectal cancer patients will develop these metastases. We may discover them together with the primary tumor, but they may also develop months, of not years after your treatment.

Find out more about the causes and symptoms, and the most commonly used diagnostic tests and treatment types for liver metastases on this page.

Causes and symptoms

If you have (had) colorectal cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, or skin cancer, you may develop metastases in the liver. Approximately 50% of colorectal cancer patients will develop these metastases. We may discover them together with the primary tumor, but they may also develop months, of not years after your treatment.

Liver metastases usually don’t cause symptoms. Some people experience fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, itching, or jaundice.

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic tests may be done to confirm or rule out liver metastases:

Rapid diagnostics

The Netherlands Cancer Institute offers rapid diagnostics for treatment and second opinion evaluations.

For liver metastases, the rapid diagnostics will mean that all required diagnostic tests (such as CT, PET, or MRI scans) will be done in a single day, in the morning. At the end of the morning, all test results will be discussed in a multidisciplinary team in order to come up with a treatment plan. Early afternoon, you will meet with one of our medical specialists from the liver team (usually a surgeon or medical oncologist) to discuss your treatment plan. If you choose to have your treatment at the NKI, you and the specialist can also take this time to come up with a treatment plan.  

Treatment options

Your exact treatment options will depend on the tumor type and stage. Your overall health and shape will also affect your options. We will inform you about the process beforehand, and you will have plenty of time to ask questions. Your treatment will most likely consist of one or more of the following treatments:

Treatment team

Our specialists excel at gastrointestinal cancer in the stomach, intestines, and liver. They come together every week for a multidisciplinary team meeting during which they will discuss your personal situation, test results, and medical history in order to find the treatment option that best fits you. Your practicing physician will discuss your options with you. At the Netherlands Cancer Institute, we value your thoughts and input on your treatment.