Liver Cancer Cases in 2016
New cases
1,810 cases
1,810 cases
Death cases
1,540 cases
1,540 cases

Liver Cancer in Hong Kong2

Liver cancer is the 5th most commonly seen, and the 3rd most lethal cancer in Hong Kong. In accordance with the Hong Kong Cancer Registry, 1,810 new cases and 1,540 death cases were recorded in 2016.

Treatment Options for Liver Cancer3,4,5

The treatment of liver cancer can be divided into local and systemic treatment, of which the choice depends on the size, quantity and location of the tumor, patients' health status, and their tolerance of side effects.

Early and Mid-Stage Liver Cancer (Stage I-III)

The size of tumor is relatively smaller, without metastasis to lymph or other organs. Local treatment can be used usually, including:

Surgical Resection : Excision of the tumor or entire liver lobe, or nearby affected tissues.
Liver Transplant : Excision of the defected liver and implantation of a health liver. Ablation or radiation therapy can be used during the wait for transplant to control the tumor progression.
Radiofrequency Ablation : Probe is inserted into the tumor with assistance from ultrasound or computer scanning, and tumor cells will be killed with radiofrequency or microwave.
Alcohol Injection : Probe is inserted into the tumor with assistance from ultrasound or computer scanning, and highly concentrated alcohol will be injected to drain all water inside tumor cells.
Hepatic Arterial Chemoembolization : Hepatic artery is the blood vessel that delivers blood to liver and tumor cells. During the surgery, a catheter would be inserted from patients’ thigh to the hepatic artery. Chemotherapy drug will be infused via the catheter, and the hepatic artery connecting to the liver will be blocked so as to stop the nutrient transportation to tumor cells.
Radioembolization : The method is similar to hepatic arterial chemoembolization except replacing chemotherapy drug with a radioactive isotope yttrium-90.
Internal Radiation : Radioactive microspheres are injected to hepatic artery connecting to tumors so as to kill or control their progression with short-distance radiation.
External Radiation : Dose and range of radiation will be determined based on size and location of tumors, so as to kill or control the tumor with high energy and least influence to normal tissues.

Late-Stage Liver Cancer (Stage IV)

Unfortunately, liver cancer patients diagnosed at late stage when the tumor cells have already metastasized to lymph and other organs. In this case, local treatment is insufficient to control the cancer and systemic treatment is needed to suppress the tumor growth and replication.

Targeted Therapy

This is the 1st line and 2nd line treatment for late-stage liver cancer, which blocks the growth signal of liver tumor cells, stopping the growth and replication. Its side effects are milder than chemotherapy, which include fatigue, rash, nausea, diarrhea, hypertension, hand and foot symptoms, etc.


This can be used to treat patients who developed drug resistance to targeted therapy. Its mechanism is to help patients' immune system to identify and kill tumor cells. Common side effects include fatigue, rash, nausea, vomiting, bone pain, joint pain, and myalgia.


It kills the abnormal cell with drugs, but may also affect normal cells so its side effects are relatively more severe, including fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, loss of appetite, low blood cell count, and low platelet count.

There is no standard chemotherapy recommendation for liver cancer treatment since more data and clinical trial is needed.

Two generations of targeted therapy and their survival6

In the past decade, there is the only one type of targeted therapy for liver cancer. Meanwhile, the new-generation targeted therapy has been launched recently. Research also demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) and reducing tumour size.

Community Care Fund

The new-generation targeted therapy has been covered by Community Care Fund.
For more details, please click here.

St. James' Settlement

Drug Subsidy Program

Application Qualification

  • Holder of a valid Hong Kong identity card
  • Patients in hospitals under Hospital Authority
  • Holder of the original prescription issued by Hospital Authority
  • Patients meeting subsidy criteria

Please contact Philanthropic Community Pharmacy of St. James' Settlement for more details.

Local Supporting Organization

Palliative Care Patient and Family Support Group
Tel: 2291 2511
Address: 5/F, Blk C, HMB, Ruttonjee Hospital, 266 Queens Road East, Wan Chai, HK
Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society
Tel: 3921 3821
Address: 30 Nam Long Shan Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Liver Cancer and Gastrointestinal Cancer Foundation
Tel: 3689 7596
Address: Hong Kong General Post Box 8190
Hong Kong Cancer Fund
Tel: 3656 0800
Address: 2201-03, China United Centre 28 Marble Road, North Point
Unit 2-8, Wing C, G/F Lung Cheong House, Lower Wong Tai Sin (II) Estate, Kowloon
Shop 201C, 2/F Fortune Kingswood Phase 2, 12-18 Tin Yan Road, Tin Shui Wai, New Territories
3/F, TLP132, 132-134 Tai Lin Pai Road, Kwai Chung, New Territories

Contact Us

Unit D, 18/F, Lee & Man Commercial Center,
169 Electric Road, North Point, Hong Kong


  1. Kudo M, Finn RS, Qin S, et al. 2018;391(10126):1163-1173.
  2. Hong Kong Cancer Registry. Liver Cancer in 2016. Available from
  3. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Hepatobiliary Cancers 2018. 
  4. European Society for Medical Oncology. Liver Cancer: A Guide for Patients–Information based on ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines – v.2014.1. 
  5. Hospital Authority. Liver Cancer. Available from
  6. Personeni N et al. J Hepatocell Carcinoma; 2019;6:31–39.