Cancer Home > Liver Cancer in Children

There are two types of liver cancer in children, and while doctors aren't sure of the causes, they do know that certain risk factors, such as liver damage or infection, can increase the chances of the condition developing. Possible symptoms include a lump or swelling in the abdomen. Treatment for liver cancer in children will depend on the stage of the disease.

Liver Cancer in Children: An Introduction

Childhood liver cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the liver. This article refers to primary liver cancer in children (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 article.
 
Primary liver cancer can occur in both adults and children. Treatment for children, however, is different from treatment for adults.
 
(Click Liver Cancer or Liver Cancer Treatment for information about adult liver cancer.)
 

Understanding the Liver

The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. It is found behind the ribs on the right side of the abdomen. The liver has two parts: a right lobe and a smaller left lobe.
 
The liver has many important functions that help keep a person healthy. It removes harmful material from the blood. It makes enzymes and bile that help digest food. It also converts food into substances needed for life and growth.
 
The liver gets its supply of blood from two vessels. Most of its blood comes from the hepatic portal vein. The rest comes from the hepatic artery.
 

Types of Liver Cancer in Children

There are two main types of liver cancer in children:
 
  • Hepatoblastoma: A type of liver cancer that usually does not spread outside the liver. This type usually affects children younger than 3 years of age.
     
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma: A type of liver cancer that often spreads to other places in the body. This type can affect children of any age.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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