Benign (noncancerous) lesions in the liver are fairly common and pose no serious health risks, nor do they spread to other areas of the body. Because benign liver tumors cause no symptoms, they are usually discovered as a result of a CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI that the patient required for another condition.
There are three basic types of benign liver tumors.
Hemangiomas are the most common type of benign liver tumors, particularly common in women. Small hemangiomas produce no symptoms and usually require no treatment. Surgery is usually recommended for larger lesions (over 6 cm) to relieve compression of adjacent structures, which can cause abdominal pain.
Focal Nodular Hyperplasia (FNH)
Focal nodular hyperplasia is the second most common type of benign liver lesion. Smaller lesions tend to be asymptomatic, while larger ones can cause compression of adjacent structures. Removal (resection) of the tumor may be recommended if the diagnosis is in question or if the patient is experiencing symptoms.
Adenoma is a less common type of benign liver tumor that occurs primarily in women of childbearing age, particularly in those who use oral contraceptives. Larger adenomas (over 5 cm) may cause symptoms of abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and/or fever. These larger lesions have a tendency to bleed (40%) and have a potential to become cancerous (10%), so removal (resection) is usually recommended. Smaller lesions should also be resected if malignancy cannot be excluded.
Focal Fatty Change
In some cases, fat in the liver is not evenly spread out, and areas of increased fat accumulation are called focal fatty change. This condition is common in patients with a history of diabetes, obesity, hepatitis C, or malnutrition. It is usually diagnosed via an MRI, and no specific treatment is required.
To find out more about the Methodist Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, call us at 713-441-8839 or 866-94-LIVER (866-945-4837) or send us an email.