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.
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.