Are Liver Nodules a Sign of Cancer?

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Liver nodules are not always a sign that cancer is present, as some liver nodules and tumors can be benign, according to the American Cancer Society. To determine if a nodule is benign or malignant (cancerous) a liver biopsy can be performed, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Most benign nodules are harmless and can be left alone, but they can be removed if they grow so large that they cause other issues.

There are multiple different types of liver growths, tumors or nodules, and each one can have different causes and require different treatments, as stated by the American Cancer Society. The most common benign liver tumor is a hamangioma, and they often do not require treatment unless they lead to bleeding, in which case they can be surgically removed. Hepatic adenoma tumors can also be left untreated, but they can also cause pain for the patient. Most doctors will remove hepatic adenomas through surgery since they can rupture and lead to severe blood loss. Although focal nodular hyperplasia tumors are benign, it can be difficult to distinguish them from cancerous tumors. Therefore, most doctors will surgically remove them.

Four out of five liver cancers begin as hepatocellular carcinoma, which can be present either as one large tumor that grows, or several small nodules seen throughout the liver, as detailed by the American Cancer Society. Other liver cancers include intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, angiosarcoma and hepatoblastoma.