Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Biopsy for liver cancer

Biopsy for liver cancer

Once a liver cancer diagnosis has been made, your doctor will use a variety of techniques to obtain a tissue sample to determine the type and stage of the disease.

Several biopsy methods can be used to take samples of liver tissue, including fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy, core needle biopsy or laparoscopic biopsy. Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive method of obtaining a tissue sample without the risks of surgery.

What is a biopsy?

During a biopsy, a doctor removes a sample of tissue or fluid from the body. A pathologist inspects the cells under a microscope to see if they are cancerous. 

Some biopsies are performed under image guidance, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This allows your doctor to collect cells from deeper inside the body. Depending on the type of biopsy performed, you will receive an anesthetic to reduce discomfort.

Compared with other diagnostic tests for cancer, biopsies often provide a more definitive diagnosis. A biopsy may help determine whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy sample, or if it started somewhere else in the body and spread to the site of the biopsy sample.

Some sites that are commonly biopsied include the breast, skin, bone marrow, GI tract, lung, liver, bladder, colon and lymph nodes. Our doctors determine the most appropriate method of biopsy based on several factors, such as the size, shape, location, and characteristics of the abnormality.

Biopsy medical animation