Doctor's Notes on Childhood Liver Cancer
Childhood liver cancer occurs when cells of the liver start to grow abnormally. The two main types of childhood liver cancer are hepatoblastoma, the most common type of childhood liver cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma, which usually affects older children and adolescents and is more common in areas of Asia with higher rates of hepatitis infection than in the U.S. Less common types of childhood liver cancer include undifferentiated embryonal sarcoma, infantile choriocarcinoma, and vascular liver tumors.
Symptoms of childhood liver cancer are more common after the tumor gets big and may include
- a lump in the abdomen that may be painful,
- swelling in the abdomen,
- weight loss for no known reason,
- loss of appetite,
- dark urine, and
- yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eyes (jaundice).
What is the treatment for childhood liver cancer?
The treatment for childhood liver cancer is planned for each individual and may involve one or more of the following therapies:
- Surgery to remove the tumor
- Watchful waiting, in cases of small tumors, completely removed by surgery
- Radiation therapy
- Ablation therapy, using radiofrequency waves or ethanol injection to destroy tumor tissue
- Antiviral treatment for tumors linked to infection with the hepatitis B virus
Must Read Articles:
ChemotherapyChemotherapy or "chemo" is a treatment for cancer. Depending on the type of cancer an individual has, it can cure cancer, control cancer. or ease cancer symptoms. There are a variety of cancer drugs. There are a number of support groups to assist chemotherapy patients gain the help they need to move through this very trying treatment.
Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test and ResultsComplete blood count (CBC) is one of the most common blood tests. The complete blood count test provides valuable information about the quantity of the different types of cells in the blood. The major cells in the blood are red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Complete blood count can assist in diagnosing anemia, certain cancers, kidney problems, and allergic reactions.
CT Scan (CAT Scan, Computerized Axial Tomography)What is a CT scan? Computerized tomography scans (CT scans) are important diagnostic tools for a variety of medical conditions. Some areas of the body frequently evaluated by CT scans include the brain, neck, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and sinuses. The CT scan process uses X-rays and a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the body.
Is Liver Cancer in a Child Curable?Liver cancer in children and adolescents is rare, but it responds to treatment. Chemotherapy, surgery and other treatments may send the cancer into remission (no evidence of cancer cells in tests), but doctors hesitate to say any cancer is “cured.”
Liver Biopsy: Procedure Reasons and Side EffectsLiver biopsy involves the removal of a small piece of tissue from the liver. Reasons for liver biopsy is to diagnose disease, monitor disease, and monitor the effectiveness of therapy. Risk of liver biopsy include hematoma, bleeding, striking another organ, and tumor tracking. Types of liver biopsy include percutaneous, transjugular, and intraoperative liver biopsy.
Liver Blood TestsLiver blood tests are used to check the levels and function of liver enzymes in the blood called AST and ALT or aminotransferases in the blood. Symptoms of elevated or high liver enzymes in the blood include fever, abdominal pain, poor appetite, itching, and nausea. Normal levels of liver enzymes in blood are caused by liver diseases caused by drugs, for example, acetaminophen (Tylenol), pain medications, and statins. Less common causes of abnormal levels of ALT or AST levels in the blood are alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver diseases (NASH), hepatitis, and alcoholism. Normal levels of ALT ranges from about 7-56 units/liter, and 10-40 units/liters for AST. Elevated (high) and low liver enzymes elevated levels of AST and ALT may signify the level of liver damage the person has. A blood sample is sent to the laboratory for measurement. Usually, you doctor will have the results interpreted within a few hours to days. Liver blood tests are used to check normal, elevated (high), and low blood levels of liver enzymes (AST and ALT or aminotransferases). Symptoms of elevated levels of liver enzymes are fever, abdominal pain, poor appetite, and nausea. Drugs, for example, acetaminophen (Tylenol), pain drugs, and statins caused high levels of liver enzymes. Less common causes are NASH, hepatitis, and alcoholism.
Liver CancerLiver cancer is hard to diagnose as symptoms and signs are vague and nonspecific. Symptoms and signs may include weakness, fatigue, weight loss, or appetite loss. Treatment may incorporate surgery, liver transplantation, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Liver DiseaseThe liver is the largest solid organ in the body, and is actually an gland. The liver has a wide variety of critical functions such as manufacturing proteins and metabolizing fats and carbohydrates. The liver also eliminates harmful biochemical waste products from the body (alcohol, drugs, toxins).The liver secretes bile that aids in digestion. Examples of diseases of the liver include; cirrhosis, hepatitis, cancer, and fatty liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver). Symptoms of liver disease include bleeding, easy bruising, edema, fatigue, and jaundice.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanner that takes cross-sectional images of the body. It is used to evaluate tissues of the head, neck, chest, limbs, abdomen, and pelvis. MRI is a very safe procedure; sedation may be used for infants, small children, or adults who are claustrophobic.
UltrasoundUltrasound (sonography, Doppler study) is a non-invasive diagnostic medical procedure performed to exam the internal organs and tissues of the body. There are several types of ultrasound, including 2D, 3D and 4D. An abdominal ultrasound is commonly used to examine the fetus during pregnancy, while a transvaginal ultrasound may be used to assess non-pregnancy symptoms
Vomiting and NauseaVomiting and nausea are common complaints that accompany many conditions and diseases. A few common causes of vomiting and nausea include food poisoning, viruses, vertigo, head injuries, gallbladder disease, appendicitis, migraine, brain tumors, and infections. Treatment of vomiting and nausea depend on the cause of the symptoms.
Weight LossObesity is simply the accumulation of excess body fat. It is much more than that, however. Obesity is a chronic (long-term) disease that is very difficult to treat. It takes 3,500 extra calories to gain 1 pound. To lose weight, you must eat 3,500 calories less than you need, say, 500 fewer calories per day for one week, to lose 1 pound.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.