A tumor that is discovered in the liver may be malignant or benign. Malignant or cancerous tumors in the liver can develop in the liver itself or they can spread to the liver if the cancer started in a different area of the body. Cirrhosis of the liver, which is permanent scarring of the liver, is one of the major causes of cancerous liver tumors.
This type of damage to the liver is often the result of heavy alcohol consumption, hepatitis C and anabolic steroid use. Liver tumors that are benign, or noncancerous, are quite common and some are linked to oral contraceptive use.
There are usually no symptoms of liver cancer until the disease progresses into the later stages.
Symptoms which indicate a cancerous tumor in the liver include nausea, losing weight and pain in the upper right portion of the stomach. Jaundice often occurs and this creates a yellow tint in the whites of the eyes and on the skin. Individuals who have a benign liver tumor normally do not have any symptoms so these tumors are only discovered when a person has an ultrasound test for other reasons.
The treatment options for cancerous liver tumors include chemotherapy, radiation and targeted therapy. A surgical procedure, called a liver resection, may be performed to remove the cancerous portion of the liver.
Other types of surgeries that are often recommended for this type of cancer include embolization or chemoembolization. Radiofrequency ablation is also a type of liver tumor treatment that shrinks the tumor or delays its growth. This type of procedure is often recommended for patients who are unable to have liver tumor surgery. Treatment options for benign liver tumors are to stop taking oral contraceptives and to have the tumor surgically removed if it is painful.