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Liver Tumors

Liver Tumors Symptoms and Causes

Liver 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. Non-cancerous (benign) liver tumors are quite common. They usually do not produce symptoms and are considered “benign” because they do not spread to other parts of the body. Often, liver tumors 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:

  • A hemangioma is a mass of abnormal blood vessels and is the most common form of liver tumors. Treatment is usually not required. Sometimes, infants with large liver hemangioma require surgery to prevent clotting and heart failure.
  • Focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH) is a form of benign liver tumor that occurs mainly in women between the ages of 20 and 30 and is the second most common form of benign liver tumors after hemangiomas. Like the other forms of benign liver tumors, they are generally discovered during imaging tests for other conditions.
  • A hepatocellular adenoma is linked to the use of certain drugs and is the least common form of benign liver tumors. Most of these tumors remain undetected. Sometimes, an adenoma will rupture and bleed into the abdominal cavity, requiring surgery. Adenomas rarely become cancerous.

Liver Tumor Symptoms

Non-cancerous or benign liver tumor symptoms are rare, though nausea or abdominal pain can result. Liver tumors are often detected only through a medical imaging test.

Liver Tumor Causes

Hepatocellular adenomas occur primarily in women, especially those who take or have taken birth control pills for an extended period of time. Doctors will often recommend that female patients who have this kind of tumor discontinue birth control pills or postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy. In general, benign liver tumor causes are unknown.