Symptoms and Signs of Childhood Liver Cancer

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2021

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, 
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • fatigue,
  • weakness,
  • 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
  • Chemotherapy 
  • 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:


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.