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What is the difference between liver cancer and hemangiomas?

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Quick Answer

Unlike liver cancer, which may spread to distant parts of the body, hemangiomas are localized, benign masses composed of tangles of blood vessels, according to Mayo Clinic. Most liver hemangiomas are discovered incidentally during testing for other conditions. They usually require no treatment, although doctors may monitor them for changes.

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Full Answer

Liver hemangiomas rarely cause symptoms, reports Mayo Clinic. They are usually small, solitary masses that remain confined to the liver and pose little risk to overall health. In rare incidences, symptoms may develop if the hemangioma becomes large enough to press on other internal organs. When symptoms occur, they include pain felt in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, fullness after eating small amounts of food, nausea and vomiting. Treatment may occasionally be necessary for hemangiomas that cause significant symptoms.

Although complications from hemangiomas are rare, they occasionally rupture, leading to bleeding and extreme pain. When this situation arises, immediate emergency surgery is always required, indicates MedicineNet.

If a doctors is in doubt about whether a liver mass is a hemangioma or a malignant growth, further testing may be ordered. Computed tomography scanning or magnetic resonance imaging can help distinguish between hemangiomas and other growths. Biopsy is rarely utilized due to the risk of bleeding, according to MedicineNet.

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