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Childhood Liver Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Childhood Liver Cancer


This summary is about the treatment of primary liver cancer (cancer that begins in the liver). Treatment of metastatic liver cancer, which is cancer that begins in other parts of the body and spreads to the liver, is not discussed in this summary. Primary liver cancer can occur in both adults and children. However, treatment for children is different than treatment for adults. See the PDQ summary on Adult Primary Liver Cancer Treatment for more information.

Certain diseases and disorders can increase the risk of developing childhood liver cancer.

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your child's doctor if you think your child may be at risk.

Risk factors for hepatoblastoma include the following:

  • Having Aicardi syndrome.
  • Having familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
  • Having Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.
  • Having hemihyperplasia (a condition in which one side of the body or a part of one side grows faster than the other).
  • Having a very low weight at birth.

Risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma include the following:

  • Being male.
  • Having the hepatitis B virus that was passed from mother to child at birth.
  • Certain genetic changes linked with childhood hepatocellular carcinoma.
  • Having one of the following conditions:
    • Biliary cirrhosis.
    • Alagille syndrome.
    • Glycogen storage disease.
    • Progressive familial intrahepatic disease.
    • Tyrosinemia.

Patients with tyrosinemia or progressive familial intrahepatic disease may receive a liver transplant before there are signs or symptoms of cancer.

Signs and symptoms of childhood liver cancer include a lump or pain in the abdomen.

Signs and symptoms are more common after the tumor gets big. Other conditions can cause the same signs and symptoms. Check with your child's doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • A painless lump in the abdomen.
  • Swelling or pain in the abdomen.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Tests that examine the liver and the blood are used to detect (find) and diagnose childhood liver cancer.

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