While being tested for liver cancer or another type of cancer, you may learn you have benign liver tumors.
"Benign" means the tumor does not have cancer.
Benign liver tumors are relatively common. They rarely cause symptoms and are usually found if you're having an ultrasound, CT scan or other imaging test for another condition.
Cysts in the liver are benign tumors that are filled with fluid.
The cyst is aspirated (emptied through a needle placed by a radiologist), injected with 100 percent alcohol, and then drained again. This method is called PAIRS – puncture, aspiration, injection and reaspiration.
If PAIRS fails or is not possible, then laparoscopic unroofing is usually the next step. This outpatient surgery is successful more than 95 percent of the time.
As with simple cysts, PAIRS or laparoscopic unroofing are the treatment options if a few large cysts are causing problems.
If many cysts are causing the liver to enlarge, removing part of the liver (resection) may be recommended. Liver transplant is reserved when the other treatments are not possible and when there is liver failure.
Ultrasound, CT and MRI scans can find the abscess and be used to help drain it.
Intravenous antibiotics are usually effective when combined with drainage.
Surgery is rarely necessary.
Benign, solid liver tumors are often spotted during ultrasound, CT and MRI.
Since many patients with adenomas are taking birth control pills, stopping these drugs is the first line of therapy. Tumors in some patients will shrink after withdrawal of birth control pills.
Adenomas larger than 4 centimeters should be surgically removed as there is a risk of rupture and a small risk of cancer.
Clotting the blood supply with embolization is a first line therapy for a bleeding adenoma.
Radio frequency ablation may help patients with many adenomas.
In contrast to hepatic adenomas, it does not cause bleeding or have a risk of cancer.
If you have pain or other symptoms, you may have surgery to remove the tumor.
Symptoms are uncommon but may include chronic abdominal pain and problems with eating, especially when the lesions are large.
They rarely cause blood disorders (including platelet problems).
Virginia Piper Cancer Institute; Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 28th edition
Timothy Sielaff, MD, PhD, FACS, medical director, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute