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Risk Factors for Liver Cancer in Children

No one knows the exact causes of liver cancer in children. Doctors can seldom explain why one child gets liver cancer and another does not. However, liver cancer research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop the condition. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Studies have found the following risk factors associated with hepatoblastoma:
  • Being male
  • Having familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Having Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
  • Having had a very low weight at birth
Risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma include the following:
  • Being male.
  • Having hepatitis B or hepatitis C. The risk is greatest when the virus is passed from mother to child at birth.
  • Having liver damage caused by certain diseases, such as biliary cirrhosis or tyrosinemia.

Symptoms of Liver Cancer in Children

Liver cancer in both children and adults is sometimes called a "silent disease." This is because there are generally no early liver cancer symptoms. Pain, for example, is a symptom of late-stage liver cancer, not an early symptom of liver cancer. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.
If symptoms of liver cancer are present, they may include the following:
  • A painless lump in the abdomen
  • Swelling or pain in the abdomen
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Loss of appetite
  • Early puberty in boys
  • Nausea and vomiting.
However, these possible symptoms of liver cancer are not sure signs of the disease. Other liver diseases and other health problems can also cause these symptoms. Anyone with these possible signs of liver cancer should see a doctor as soon as possible. Only a doctor can properly diagnose and treat the problem.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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