What is the Liver and How is it Affected?
The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It is located in the upper right part of the abdomen. It performs many essential functions, including filtering toxins from the blood, making clotting proteins, assisting in regulating blood sugar, and making bile, which aids in digestion. The liver is commonly affected by both benign and malignant tumors. There is a right lobe and a left lobe. The right lobe cradles the gallbladder.
How Common Are Liver Tumors and What Kind Are They?
There are many benign masses that can be found in the liver. Hemangiomas are benign blood vessel tumors that can be present in up to 5% of adults. The vast majority of these are asymptomatic, though some can be quite large and can occasionally cause pain. They only require removal for symptoms.
Focal nodular hyperplasia is the second most common benign liver tumor. These are rarely symptomatic and again, only require removal for symptoms.
Hepatic adenomas are less common. They can sometimes have their growth increased by oral contraceptives. Sometimes your physician will have you stop these medications to see the masses will shrink. Sometimes these will be removed based on size. The larger ones are at risk for rupture.
When Will My Liver Cancer Require Surgery?
There are numerous cystic lesions in the liver that could possibly require surgical treatment.
From a liver cancer standpoint, almost any solid tumor can spread to the liver. Some people are candidates to have a portion of the liver removed based on questions of anatomy of the tumor, overall health, and type of cancer.
The liver can also develop primary cancers including HCC or hepatocellular cancer and cholangiocarcinoma. Hepatocellular cancer is more common in patients that have chronic cirrhosis, or liver damage from viral hepatitis. There are other causes as well, and these can both develop in patients with no family history of cancer.
Some tumors near the surface of the liver can be removed laparoscopically. However, this is not the majority of cases. The liver contains around 20% of your total blood volume, and many cases warrant open removal. The goal of all the surgery is to give you a safe procedure.
Our liver surgery patients come to us from Kernersville, Winston-Salem, Burlington, High Point, Greensboro and nearby locations.