Tumors are abnormal masses of tissue that form when cells begin to reproduce at an increased rate. Both noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) tumors can develop in the liver.
Noncancerous (benign) tumors are quite common and usually do not produce symptoms. Often, they are not diagnosed until an ultrasound, computed tomography scan, or magnetic resonance imaging scan is performed. There are several types of benign liver tumors, including the following:
Hepatocellular adenoma. This benign tumor is linked to the use of certain drugs. Most of these tumors remain undetected. Sometimes, an adenoma will rupture and bleed into the abdominal cavity, requiring surgery. Adenomas rarely become cancer.
Hemangioma. This type of benign tumor is a mass of abnormal blood vessels. Treatment is usually not required. Sometimes, infants with large liver hemangiomas require surgery to prevent clotting and heart failure.
Cancerous (malignant) tumors in the liver have either originated in the liver (primary liver cancer) or spread from cancer sites elsewhere in the body (metastatic liver cancer). Most cancerous tumors in the liver are metastatic.
Also called hepatocellular carcinoma, this is the most common form of primary liver cancer. Chronic infection with hepatitis B and C increases the risk of developing this type of cancer. Other causes include certain chemicals, alcoholism, and chronic liver cirrhosis.
The following are the most common symptoms of a hepatoma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of a liver hepatoma may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for a liver hepatoma may include the following:
Specific treatment for metastatic liver cancer will be determined by your doctor based on: