Follow up after liver cancer treatment

You usually have follow up appointments to check how you are and see whether you have any problems or worries. The appointments also give you the chance to raise any concerns you have about your progress.

How often do you have check ups?

Follow up appointments might not be the same for everyone. This depends on how well you are and the treatment you have had.

For example, you might have an operation to remove part of your liver. Or you may have radiofrequency ablation directed at the liver cancer. Your follow up after these treatments might be: 

  • every 3 months in the first year
  • every 6 months after that

After a liver transplant, you may see your liver specialist:

  • weekly for 6 weeks
  • every 2 weeks for the next 3 months
  • once a month for the next 6 months
  • then every 3 months after that

You might have appointments every 3 months if you have advanced liver cancer and have had treatment with:

  • trans arterial chemoembolisation (TACE), or
  • targeted or immunotherapy drugs

These are examples. Your doctor will work out your follow up schedule depending on your situation.

What happens?

Your doctor or nurse specialist examines you at each appointment. They ask how you are feeling, whether you have had any symptoms or side effects, and if anything is worrying you. You might also have tests at some visits.

You'll probably have a blood test for the marker AFP at every visit if you've had a hepatocellular cancer (HCC). You may also have blood tests to check how well your liver is working (liver function tests). Other tests may include:

  • CT scans
  • MRI scans 
  • ultrasound scans
  • x-rays

You won't have all these tests at every visit. Your doctor might arrange scans if you have a new symptom or if there's something specific that needs checking. 

Between appointments

Contact your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any concerns between appointments. You should also contact them if you notice any new symptoms. You don’t have to wait until your next visit.

Coping

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. A hospital appointment can bring back any anxiety you had about your cancer. It can help to tell someone close to you how you’re feeling. Sharing your worries can mean they don’t seem so overwhelming. Many people find it helpful to have counselling after cancer treatment.

You can also find people to share experiences with by using our online forum, Cancer Chat.

Last reviewed: 
24 Mar 2022
Next review due: 
24 Mar 2025
  • EASL Clinical Practice Guidelines: Management of hepatocellular carcinoma
    European Association for the Study of the Liver
    Journal of Hepatology, 2018. Volume 69, Pages 182-236

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
    A Vogel and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2018. Volume 29, Supplement 4, Pages 238-255

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