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Carolinas HealthCare System

If you have symptoms of liver cancer, your doctor may do several things to diagnose or rule out the disease. These include:

  • Performing a physical exam, looking for lumps or other changes, as well as fluid buildup, in the abdomen. He or she will also check for jaundice (a condition that may cause your skin and the whites of your eyes to turn yellow).
  • Ordering one or more blood tests, including one to check alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels, which, when high, can signal liver cancer. Other blood tests can show if the liver is working properly.
  • Ordering imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI and ultrasound to get a more detailed look at the abdomen and liver.
  • Although available and sometimes used, a biopsy (a sample of liver tissue that’s analyzed in a lab for cancer cells) is usually not needed.