Blood tests, a biopsy and different imaging procedures can help doctors locate benign and malignant liver tumors. To find cancerous liver tumors, CT scans, ultrasounds and MRIs are useful procedures. Doctors can order these different tests if after an initial physical exam, they notice a symptom, such as a swollen liver, states the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus.
Some types of benign liver tumors are hemangiomas, focal nodular hyperplasia, and hepatocellular adenoma. The same imaging tests used in the diagnosis of malignant tumors or liver cancer can be utilized for the detection of benign liver growths. However, an MRI and a CT scan can present more details and information about the tumor, such as its size and location, states Johns Hopkins Medicine.
For the detection of cancerous tumors, different blood tests, such as a liver function test and an alpha fetoprotein test are also used. The liver function test can show if the liver is functioning properly. The alpha fetoprotein test can detect if there is an elevation in this protein, which may be an indication of liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma is a very common type of liver cancer.
Doctors can also order a liver biopsy for further examination. This is a procedure that involves the excision of a small portion of the tumor.