What causes liver cancer? Many factors may play a role in the development of cancer. Because the liver filters blood from all parts of the body, cancer cells from elsewhere can lodge in the liver and start to grow. Cancers that begin in the gut often spread to the liver. In addition, after injury has occurred in the liver, the liver cells can regenerate. Sometimes the regeneration is associated with changes (mutations) in the liver cells that have been linked to the development of liver cancers.