Treating Benign and Malignant Liver Tumors | FAQs with Dr. Richard Burkhart

(bright music)>>The most common types
of benign liver tumors include hemangiomas, which
are more of an abnormal nest of blood vessels in the liver,
focal nodular hyperplasia, which is a term that refers
to areas in the liver which grow essentially
larger and quicker than other areas of the liver. And finally, adenomas, or
abnormal growths of liver cells, which are technically still benign. (bright music) The causes of benign liver
tumors are in large part unknown, particularly when it comes to hemangiomas and focal nodular hyperplasia. Some of these types of
diseases can run in families, however, for the most part, we don’t know what truly causes them. Adenomas may be one exception. For patients who experience
an adenoma, oftentimes that’s from an excess in estrogen levels. It’s more common historically
when the estrogen in women’s contraceptives were higher. Nevertheless, we still do
see it occasionally today associated with oral contraceptive use. (bright music) By and large, benign
liver tumors are watched, meaning we don’t do any
specific therapy for them. We don’t give medications
or offer surgeries for them. The one exception, is perhaps, when tumors cause discomfort or pain. In those cases, we will
sometimes offer patients interventions, including medications and potentially surgeries. However, we’re careful to
evaluate these patients, as it is rare for a benign liver tumor to cause pain or discomfort. The one exception is
perhaps a hepatic adenoma. When hepatic adenomas
enlarge to a certain size, they become at risk for
bleeding and for development of malignancy, so in those cases we can occasionally offer a resection. (bright music) The difference between
a benign liver tumor and a malignant liver tumor is the ability of the cells that make up
that tumor to spread elsewhere in the body and cause harm. For a benign liver tumor,
these are things which usually do not grow quickly and
they do not leave the liver and colonize other areas
of the body and cause harm. Cancer, on the other hand, can. Cancer invades the normal
tissues, spreads throughout the liver and can go elsewhere in the body and ultimately, can unfortunately
take a patient’s life. (bright music) Well, for the most part,
benign liver tumors do not need any specific therapies. And as we discussed a little earlier, we mostly will watch these. Malignant liver tumors, however, do routinely require therapy. That therapy is usually
driven by a multidisciplinary discussion where we discuss
and decide on the utilization of both medical, surgical
and interventional radiologic interventions to try to prevent
this tumor from growing, spreading and taking a patient’s life. (bright music)