Can Liver Cancer Be Mistaken for Hemangioma?

Benign tumors of the liver are commoner than most people think. In fact, more than 25% of all humans have benign tumors in their livers that would never manifest. Hemangioma is the commonest of benign tumors. Benign tumors of the liver include hemangiomas, focal nodular hyperplasia, hepatocellular adenomas and other less common types as angiolipomas and lipomas. As a general rule, benign tumors do not turn malignant except for hepatocellular adenoma. They can cause complications as rupture or severe abdominal pain. In such cases, treatment becomes a must and surgery is usually the only option.

Understanding benign tumors of the liver helps to remove much of the anxiety of their diagnosis. People tend to not differentiate between a benign or a malignant tumor and such stigma cannot be removed except by good understanding of what benign tumors are and how they develop.

What is a hemangioma?

A hemangioma is a cluster of the cells forming the inner lining of the blood vessels. This results in the formation of a blood-filled cavity anywhere in the body. It can occur on your skin, inside your brain or in your liver. Hemangiomas are very common. Liver hemangiomas are estimated to occur in one of every five humans, making them the most common benign tumors of the liver. This high prevalence points at how benign they are. A hemangioma has no risk of turning malignant. It is usually without any symptoms, but when it causes symptoms, it is usually troublesome, and treatment becomes a must.

It was long believed that oral contraceptive pills caused them, but that was not proven by any study conducted. It was only proven that oral contraceptive pills can accelerate their growth in some patients. With that said, liver hemangiomas were found almost exclusively in females pointing towards a hormonal cause. Pregnancy can also enlarge a hemangioma, and in rare occasions cause it to rupture.

Written by Martin Davis