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Liver Tumors (Pediatric)

Make an appointment. Call (212) 305-9770.

What are liver tumors?

The liver is the third-most-common site for abdominal tumors in children. Tumors of the liver may be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Examples are:

  • Hemangiomas are the most common benign liver tumors and commonly occur within the first 6 months of life. 
  • Hepatoblastomas are the most common malignant liver tumors.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma​, another malignant tumor.

What are the symptoms of liver tumors?

​Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal mass 
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Respiratory distress
  • Congestive heart failure

How are liver tumors diagnosed?

We use lab tests, imaging techniques, and a liver biopsy to diagnose the type of liver tumor.

Laboratory studies are done to measure the levels of enzymes and other substances in the liver. 

One important test measures the protein α -fetoprotein (AFP). High AFP levels often indicate hepatoblastomas.

Other tests may use imaging techniques such as:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT scanning
  • MRI of the abdomen and chest
  • Angiography that uses X-rays to see the location and number of lesions Liver chemistry and functional blood tests
  • α -fetoprotein (AFP)
  • Liver biopsy 

What is the treatment for liver tumors?

 Treatment plans are based on the specific type of liver tumor.​​

Treatment for hemangiomas

  • High-doses of corticosteroids
  • Propranolol (beta blocker)
  • Interferon-alpha 
  • Chemotherapy
  • Vascular procedures to remove the blood supply
  • Surgery
  • Liver transplant 

Lesions or sores on the liver are removed by surgery or procedures that block the blood flow to the lesion.

In rare cases, when the disease has spread throughout the liver or hasn’t responded to other therapy, we may recommend a liver transplant.

Treatment for hepatoblastomas and hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Surgical removal of the cancerous part of the liver (resection). Up to half of the liver may be removed and the rest of the organ will still function as long as it is healthy. 
  • Chemotherapy
  • Chemoembolization with intra-arterial chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Liver transplant