Liver cancer

Each year more than 38,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and up to half of those may go on to develop cancer in the liver. This is known as secondary liver cancer, as it first develops elsewhere in the body and then spreads (metastasizes) to the liver.

Liver surgery (or ‘resection’) – where the cancerous parts of the liver are removed surgically - remains the only potential ‘cure’ for secondary liver cancer. Up to approximately 75% of the liver can be removed and will regenerate.

Historically, only a small proportion (around 20%) of patients with secondary liver cancers were operable. Today, in patients who respond to chemotherapy, up to 50% can now undergo surgery. Chemotherapy given before liver surgery (neoadjuvant) is now used to shrink (or ‘down-size’) liver secondaries, rendering some previously inoperable patients operable.

Liver Surgery is a 10 minute film which features secondary liver cancer patient Frank undergoing treatment at Basingstoke Hospital Foundation Trust in the care of Hepatobiliary Director and Consultant Hepatobiliary Surgeon Myrddin Rees.

The film is courtesy of Lynn Faulds Wood, TV presenter and herself a former bowel cancer sufferer, and is part of her Lynn’s Helpful Videos series.

Pelican Cancer Foundation aims to save and improve the lives of those with secondary liver cancer by improving treatment. It achieves this by supporting the research, development and dissemination of advances in treatment.

Pelican is a centre of excellence for sharing life-saving, life-enhancing knowledge and skills with multidisciplinary liver cancer teams. By bringing liver surgeons and teams together to discuss and define best practice, Pelican contributes to setting a national standard for diagnosis and treatment.

Pelican supports the pioneering work of the Basingstoke-based liver surgery unit, led by Consultant Hepatobiliary Surgeon Mr Myrddin (Merv) Rees. The Basingstoke liver team has set a benchmark for ‘bloodless liver surgery’. Over 2000 patients have undergone resection of their secondary liver tumours in North Hampshire to date under Mr Merv Rees, Mr Tim John and Miss Fenella Welsh. The team has also been instrumental in driving several positive changes in national and international practice.

Pelican also supports research that informs and improves secondary liver cancer treatment today. Pelican part-funds vital research resources, like the Basingstoke Hepatobiliary Research Office.

Over the last 10 years, the majority of liver surgeons in England have attended the UK Liver Surgeons Training Course at Pelican's state-of-the-art facility, led by Mr Rees and other leading UK surgeons.

There are now more than fifteen units well established throughout the country that are equally committed to promoting a liver surgery service to patients with secondary bowel cancer tumours in the liver.

Data from the Basingstoke Hepatobiliary Research Office - part-funded by Pelican - has underpinned a number of important research studies, prompting changes in practice that have saved and improved many lives.

To research, develop and disseminate advances in precision treatment, especially surgery, for secondary liver cancer. The charity’s research studies will investigate ways to improve survival for today’s liver cancer patients as well as the quality of life that patients can continue to enjoy after treatment. Our objective is to organise challenging and popular professional medical courses that encourage learning, collaboration and discussion.

Pelican will continue to support research looking at secondary bowel cancer tumours in the liver. This will include ways of maximising the number of patients that are suitable for surgery, refining precision treatments and assessing quality of life outcomes.

Pelican will continue to support both educational meetings and national seminars that investigate treatments to provide the best outcomes for patients with liver metastases.