Liver tumors are removed by taking out the part of the liver that contains them in a procedure called resection, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Liver resections, also called partial hepatectomies by the American Cancer Society, may be performed using a less invasive laproscopic method or by traditional surgery. Besides a liver transplant, liver resection is the only known treatment for liver cancer as of August 2015, according to the American Cancer Society.
Liver tissue regrows over time through a process known as hypertrophy, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Because the organ grows back, a part of it can be removed and the body will replace it over time. Patients with extensive liver cancer may have their tumors removed in more than one operation to allow healthy liver tissue to grow back between surgeries. In some cases, liver cancer patients undergo a treatment called portal vein embolization to encourage liver growth. Prior to resection, patients may be treated with chemotherapy, which is used to shrink tumors, and ablation, which is a heat-based treatment designed to destroy tumors prior to removal.
The main specific risk of liver resection is bleeding, according to the American Cancer Society. Partial hepatectomy carries the risks associated with any major surgery as well, such as blood clots, infections and complications from anesthesia. The liver is particularly susceptible to clotting complications due to its normal function of producing clotting substances.