Diagnosing Liver Cancer

Tests to Diagnose Liver Cancer

To diagnose liver cancer, your health care provider needs to collect a lot of information and may order the following tests:

  • Physical exam
  • Liver function tests to find out how well your liver is working
  • Additional blood tests
    • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test, which may indicate liver cancer if these levels are high
    • Calcium and cholesterol levels, which increase in the presence of liver cancer
    • Complete blood count (CBC), to see whether your bone marrow is making enough red and white blood cells
    • Blood clotting tests to see how well your blood is clotting, which is a function of the liver
    • Hepatitis B and C tests, since these viral infections increase your risk for liver cancer
  • Imaging studies to take pictures of your liver to help locate any problems
    • CT scan (x-rays)
    • MRI (magnetic rays)
    • Ultrasound (sound waves)
    • Angiography
    • Laparoscopy
  • Liver Biopsy - A liver biopsy is a minor surgical procedure that involves taking a very small sample of your liver to confirm a diagnosis of liver cancer

Additional Information

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network provides a detailed chart for health care professionals that shows the steps involved in diagnosing liver cancer.