Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Information About Liver Tumors

What is a tumor?

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 noncancerous liver tumors?

Noncancerous (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:

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.

What are the 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:

The symptoms of a liver hepatoma may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is liver hepatoma diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for a liver hepatoma may include the following:

Treatment for liver hepatoma:

Specific treatment for liver hepatoma will be determined by your physician based on:

Treatment may include:

What are other types of primary liver cancers?

Other, less common primary liver cancers include the following:

What are the stages of liver cancer?

When liver cancer is diagnosed, tests will be performed to determine how much cancer is present, and if the cancer has spread from the liver to other parts of the body. This is called staging, and is an important step toward planning a treatment program. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines the following stages for primary liver cancer:

localized resectable Cancer is in one place and can be removed completely with surgery.
localized unresectable Cancer is in one place, but cannot be totally removed.
advanced Cancer has spread through the liver and other parts of the body.
recurrent Cancer has come back after it was treated.

What is metastatic liver cancer?

Cancer that has spread from other areas in the body to the liver usually originated in the lung, breast, colon, pancreas, and stomach. Leukemia and other blood cancers sometimes also spread to the liver.

What are the symptoms of metastatic liver cancer?

The following are the most common symptoms of metastatic liver cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of metastatic liver cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is metastatic liver cancer diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for metastatic liver cancer may include the following:

Treatment for metastatic liver cancer:

Specific treatment for metastatic liver cancer will be determined by your physician based on:

Treatment may include:

Stanford Medicine Resources:

Footer Links: