Benign Liver Tumours

Benign Liver Tumours
Benign Liver Tumours
By Dr. Lee Ser Yee
Tumours are abnormal masses of tissue that form when cells replicate at an increased rate. Both non-cancerous (Benign) and cancerous (Malignant) tumours can develop in the liver.

Non-cancerous (Benign) liver tumours are common and usually do not produce symptoms. Often, they are not diagnosed until an ultrasound, CT or MRI scan is performed for other reasons e.g., health screening.

They do not spread to other areas of the body, and they usually do not pose a serious health risk. It is important to ensure these liver tumours are accurately evaluated as some early cancers may appear like benign tumours.

There are several types of benign liver tumours

  • Hemangiomas
    • Hemangiomas are the most common form of benign liver tumours. They are a mass of abnormal blood vessels. Up to 5% of adults may have hemangiomas in their liver, and women are more likely to develop them. Treatment is usually not required.
  • Focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH)
    • FNH is the second most common benign liver tumour. These occur mainly in women between the ages of 20 and 40. They are generally discovered during scans for other conditions, and they do not usually require treatment unless they cause symptoms.
  • Hepatic adenoma (HA)
    • Also known as Hepatocellular adenoma (HCA), it is linked to the use of certain drugs (e.g., Oral contraceptives) and hormones. Most of these tumours remain asymptomatic and undetected. Sometimes, it may rupture and bleed into the abdomen, requiring surgery. It may enlarge in women who take hormone pills, such as for postmenopausal hormonal replacement therapy, or during pregnancy.
    • Though rare, certain adenomas harbour the risk of cancerous transformation over time.
  • Others
    • Rarer forms of benign tumours can occur in the liver as well, such as - Biliary adenomas, Biliary hamartomas, Solitary fibrous tumour, Hepatic angiomyolipoma, Cirrhotic/regenerative nodules, focal fatty infiltration, to name a few.
  • Cystic lesions
    • Liver cysts are also considered cystic tumours of the liver. Find out more about liver cysts here.

Although most benign liver tumours are not dangerous and do not require treatment, it is important to highlight that accurate diagnosis of these tumours is crucial as some cancers may appear similar or mimic these benign tumours. Please consult a liver surgeon to find out more.