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What Is a Hepatic Neoplasm?

Madeleine A.
Madeleine A.

A hepatic neoplasm is another name for a liver tumor. In addition, a hepatic neoplasm can either be benign in nature or malignant. A malignant hepatic neoplasm is also known as liver cancer. Risk factors for liver cancer include hepatitis, cirrhosis, and diabetes. Heavy consumption of alcohol and obesity may also be risk factors. Certain medications have also been implicated in the formation of hepatic neoplasm.

Unfortunately, symptoms of a hepatic neoplasm, or liver cancer, are not apparent until the disease is very advanced. Sometimes, symptoms appear in early stages of the illness, but they are typically are so vague that they are often mistaken for other, less serious, conditions. When in doubt, the patient should seek medical advice and evaluation. If the physician cannot determine the cause of the patient's symptoms, he may refer him to an doctor who specializes in liver disorders.


Symptoms of a malignant hepatic neoplasm include jaundice, which is when the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow, dark urine, and light-colored stools. In addition, loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal pain can occur. Sometimes, a lump can be felt in the upper right portion of the abdomen, which is usually the result of an enlarged liver, and weight loss can occur as well.

Since there are no recommended screening tests to detect liver cancer, it is typically diagnosed in the later stages. Other symptoms of a hepatic neoplasm include itching, which is related to jaundice, fever, and profound weakness. When symptoms occur, the health care provider should be notified as soon as possible for further evaluation and a possible treatment plan.

Medical tests used in the diagnosis of a liver neoplasm include ultrasounds and liver biopsies. An ultrasound of the liver uses sound waves that bounce off hepatic structures to produce detailed images of the liver and bile ducts. In addition, an ultrasound of the liver can help diagnose a benign tumor, abnormal growth of liver tissue, and carcinoma in situ, or early liver cancer.

Blood tests are sometimes used in the diagnosis of hepatic neoplasm as well. These look for a certain protein in the blood that is sometimes present in adults who have cancer. The elevation of this protein can indicate the presence of a malignancy, however, it can also indicate the presence of benign liver diseases. A blood test alone cannot determine the presence or absence of liver cancer.

Liver cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. In addition, the outcome and prognosis of the condition depends upon a variety of factors, such as the type of tumor, extent of disease, and early detection. Other factors include the general health of the patient, age of the patient, and type of treatment that is being used. For the most part, the earlier the diagnosis is made, the better chance the patient has for a favorable prognosis.

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