What is Hepatoblastoma?

Hepatoblastoma is a rare cancerous tumor that starts in the liver. Most hepatoblastoma tumors occur in the right lobe of the liver. Hepatoblastoma cells can also spread to different parts of the body, most often to the lungs.

What causes Hepatoblastoma? Who is affected?

The cause of hepatoblastoma is unknown, but there are genetic conditions that are associated with risk for developing hepatoblastoma. These are examples of some of the conditions:

  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome: This syndrome is characterized by a combination of Wilms’ tumor, kidney failure, genitourinary malformations, and gonad (ovaries or testes) abnormalities.
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis: This is a group of rare inherited diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Hemihypertrophy: This condition is the faster growth of one limb on one side of the body in comparison with the other side.

Hepatoblastoma usually affects children, with most cases seen during the first 18 months of life. Hepatoblastoma is more common in boys and affects Caucasian children more. It occurs more frequently in children who were premature and low in weight at birth.

What are symptoms of Hepatoblastoma?

Symptoms and signs usually depend on the size of the tumor and if has spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms include:

  • Weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Itchy skin
  • Back pain
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Anemia

How is Hepatoblastoma treated?

Depending on the stage of hepatoblastoma there are various treatments that one can do. Treatments include:

  • Surgery to remove tumor
  • Chemotherapy
  • Remove liver (or parts of it)
  • Liver transplant
  • Radiation therapy
  • Percutaneous ethanol injection. A small needle is used to inject an alcohol called ethanol right into the tumor to kill cancer cells.

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