Cancers and Tumors

Liver Tumor Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Liver Tumors

Most people with liver tumors or liver cancer do not have symptoms early in the disease. Usually symptoms appear only after the cancer has grown there for a while.

Here are some common signs and symptoms of liver cancer. The same symptoms can also be caused by other problems that are not cancer. So it's important for a child with symptoms like these to see a doctor to find out the cause.

  • Lump, swelling or pain in the abdomen. The liver is tucked under the rib cage on the right side. Because the liver is covered this way, it's not common to see or feel a mass there. But a mass might be seen or felt if it's large. Sometimes in liver cancer (and other illnesses) the abdomen swells from fluid that builds up there (ascites) rather than a solid mass.
  • Weight loss for no reason
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice - yellow color in the whites of the eyes; maybe yellow tint in the skin for some skin colors
  • In boys, early puberty

Liver Tumor Diagnosis

To find out whether your child has a liver tumor, your child's doctor will start with an exam to look for signs of the disease. The doctor will also ask about your child's health background.

Then the doctor may suggest a number of tests to help tell the type of tumor and see whether it has spread. A blood test may reveal high levels of certain chemicals that liver tumors make or raise.

If the doctor thinks that your child may have a liver tumor, she may perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Another method is to take a sample of fluid or tissue using a needle, called needle biopsy or fine-needle aspiration.

Your child's doctor may also want your child to have pictures taken of the inside of his body, such as an X-ray, ultrasound, CT (computed tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). These are called imaging studies, and they allow the doctor to look for tumors or areas where cancer is active.