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What Are the Treatments for a Liver Mass?

Surgery may be needed to treat a liver mass.
Treatment might be based on the type or stage of liver mass.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
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A liver mass, also known as a liver hemangioma, is a bundle of blood vessels found in the liver. These blood vessels are poorly developed but are not cancerous in nature. Most liver masses do not require any kind of treatment. However, radiation therapy as well as various types of surgical procedures are indicated in some situations.

In most cases, a liver mass produces no symptoms at all. In fact, the majority of these masses are found during routine testing for other diseases or conditions. Since a liver mass rarely has any negative side effects for the patient, very often there is no medical intervention necessary. The doctor may choose to watch the mass over a period of time just to make sure there are no developing side effects that could be harmful to the patient. Despite the concerns of some patients, there is no medical evidence that lack of treatment for these masses will ever lead to cancer of the liver.

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In some cases, the liver mass will grow and begin to press against other organs or structures within the body. If this growth causes uncomfortable symptoms, treatment options do exist to help minimize some of these symptoms. Some of the symptoms that can be associated with a liver mass include pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen, reduced appetite, or even nausea and vomiting. Radiation therapy aimed at destroying the cells of the mass is sometimes used. However, depending on the individual situation, several types of surgical intervention are the most common methods of treatment for a liver mass causing symptoms.

One type of surgery involves the complete removal of the liver mass. This procedure is possible only if the mass can be easily separated from the liver. If the surgeon decides this is not a possibility, a portion of the liver may have to be removed along with the actual mass itself. Fortunately, this procedure generally has no negative impact on the functioning of the liver.

A different type of surgical procedure involves cutting off the blood supply to the primary artery supplying blood to the liver mass. This type of surgery often causes the mass to shrink or at the very least stop growing. Since the liver gets its blood supply from other vessels as well, there is no impact on liver function from this procedure. On very rare occasions, when the mass is very large or there are multiple masses, a liver transplant may be advised.

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SauteePan
Post 5

@Subway11 -That is so sad to hear about your uncle. The liver is really an important organ because it eliminates all of the impurities in your system and if there is a problem the toxins can build in your body and harm you.

I read that there is a link between diabetes and liver cancer because they say that when insulin levels become high they increase the likelihood of developing tumors in the liver. They also say that pancreatic cancer is also linked to diabetes as well.

subway11
Post 4

I had an uncle that was diagnosed with end stage liver cancer and he unfortunately died of the disease. He had diabetes which caused him to have a higher risk factor for this condition.

He was also very overweight and did not watch his diet. The mass that he has was too large for them to remove because the doctors said that it had blood vessels attached to it.

My uncle died about two months after he received his diagnosis. Unfortunately liver cancer prognosis is not as good as other cancers especially when it is caught at this late stage.

I know that there are a lot of promising drugs that come out every day, and I just wish that one day we can find a cure for cancer.

bythewell
Post 3

I always thought a hemangioma was the name for a certain kind of birthmark, but when I looked it up, it applies to the liver mass as well, since they are both caused by malformed blood vessels. Apparently it happens in the womb, so it's not caused by anything anyone did, it's just something that happens.

The article I read said they happen in about 10% of Caucasians and slightly less in other groups, which seems quite high to me, but I suppose sometimes the birthmarks are quite small, or the liver masses are never really detected, or bothered with, so they could affect a lot of people and I'd never notice.

indigomoth
Post 2

@browncoat - Surgery on the liver is still dangerous though, as any surgery can be dangerous and an operation on a major organ is never going to be straightforward.

From what I understand, often these liver masses can be difficult to remove as well, since they are made up of blood vessels and aren't necessarily neatly presented for the surgeon to cut out and cauterize.

It is good that if you come through the surgery you'll likely not suffer any long term effects, but it is still something you shouldn't take lightly.

People take surgery too much for granted these days. It isn't the same thing as taking a pill and expecting the disease to just go away.

browncoat
Post 1

Luckily for people who need to have a liver mass removed, the liver is one of the few organs in the body that will actually regrow if it is damaged or partially removed.

This is why people who need a liver transplant are more likely to be able to get one than people who need, say a kidney. If you match the patient and are willing to give up part of your liver, you know it will grow back and your quality of life won't really be affected.

But, if you give up a kidney, that is going to end up affecting you forever, because your kidney won't grow back.

I mean, it's still not great, but it's better than it could be.

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