Tumors are abnormal masses of tissue that form when cells begin to reproduce at an increased rate. The liver can grow both non-cancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) tumors.
What are non-cancerous liver tumors?
Non-cancerous (benign) tumors are quite common and usually do not produce symptoms. Often, they are not diagnosed until an ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is performed. There are several types of benign liver tumors, including the following:
Hepatocellular adenoma: This benign tumor occurs most often in women of childbearing age. Most of these tumors remain undetected. Sometimes, an adenoma will rupture and bleed into the abdominal cavity, requiring surgery. Adenomas rarely become cancerous.
Hemangioma: This type of benign tumor is a mass of abnormal blood vessels. Up to five percent of adults have small liver hemangiomas that cause no symptoms. Treatment is usually not required. Sometimes, infants with large liver hemangiomas require surgery to prevent clotting and heart failure.
What are cancerous liver tumors?
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.
What is hepatoma (primary liver cancer)?
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 cancer-causing substances, alcoholism, and chronic liver cirrhosis.
Symptoms of a Liver hepatoma:
The following are the most common symptoms of a liver hepatoma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Large mass can be felt in upper, right part of abdomen
- Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes.
The symptoms of a liver hepatoma may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How Is Liver Hepatoma Diagonosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for a liver hepatoma may include the following:
Liver function tests: A series of special blood tests that can determine if the liver is functioning properly.
Abdominal ultrasound (Also called sonography.) – a diagnostic imaging technique, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs of the abdomen such as the liver, spleen, and kidneys and to assess blood flow through various vessels.
Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) -a diagnostic imaging procedure using a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
Hepatic arteriography – x-rays taken after a substance in injected into the hepatic artery.
Liver biopsy: A procedure in which tissue samples from the liver are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope.
Treatment Of Hepatoma
Physicians will be able to determine the right treatment for patients suffering from liver hepatoma based on:
- Age, overall health, and medical history
- Tolerance of specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease
Treatment may include:
- Your opinion or preference
- Surgery may be necessary to remove cancerous tissue, as well as nearby non- cancerous tissue. Total surgical removal of the liver lobe or removal of segments of the liver may be performed.
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill or shrink cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells.
- Transplant the whole liver with a new one from a donor.