banner image

Surgery for Liver cancer

The only options for liver cancer surgery include either a liver transplant or removal of part of the liver (otherwise known as a partial hepatectomy).

How is a partial hepatectomy done?

A partial hepatectomy is done to remove a tumour from the liver that has not grown into the blood vessels. Sadly, often the cancer has spread and surgery is not able to remove all cancer cells. Even removing only a small part of the liver may mean the liver is not able to function correctly. The concern when doing this surgery is that a lot of blood passes through the liver and therefore bleeding may be uncontrollable during and after surgery, which poses a significant risk.

What are the other options for liver cancer?

Other than a partial hepatectomy, the only other option is a liver transplant. Liver transplant s are only done for those with small tumours or whose tumours cannot be removed with surgery. Because the transplant list is long, it may take years to receive a transplant. In general, individuals with liver disease are given preference for liver transplants over those with liver cancer.

Dr. Noorbhai will work in conjunction with the rest of your oncology team. Depending on how far the cancer has spread you may have surgery in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation. Due to the difficulty in getting a liver transplant, a partial hepatectomy is the prefered treatment.

How long will I be in hospital?

Most patients are able to go home after 10 days of observation in the hospital after a partial hepatectomy. How soon you will be discharged from hospital depends on whether you are able to drink liquids when waking up, how much pain you have and whether you have someone to look after you at home.

What will happen after the partial hepatectomy?

You may experience pain after surgery, however Dr. Noorbhai will try make you as comfortable as possible. You will be monitored in hospital for the next 10 days. Depending on whether or not the entire tumour was removed, you may need chemotherapy or radiation.

How soon after the surgery can I resume normal activities?

You will be able to resume normal after surgery within the next 6 weeks. 

What are the potential risks and complications of a partial hepatectomy?

The risk of complications during surgery include:

  • Infection of the wound or internal infection.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Inability to break down toxins in the body.
  • Problems with uncontrollable bleeding.
  • Blood clotting due to inability for the liver to produce bile.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots.
  • Risks from general anaesthetic.
endoscopic and-laparoscopic surgery
endoscopic and-laparoscopic procedures

Suite 609 6th Floor Netcare Umhlanga Medical Centre, 321 Umhlanga Rocks Drive, Umhlanga Rocks, 4319, Durban


Mon to Fri: 08:00 to 16:00
Sat / Sun: Closed.