Hepatoblastoma Facts

Hepatoblastoma is a type of liver cancer that primarily affects infants and young children, typically up to the age of 3. Hepatoblastoma arises from immature liver cells called hepatoblasts, which are involved in liver development during fetal development.

  • Hepatoblastoma is most commonly diagnosed in infants and young children, with the peak incidence occurring between birth and 3 years of age. 
  • While rare in older children and adults, hepatoblastoma can occasionally occur in individuals beyond early childhood.
  • The exact cause of hepatoblastoma is not fully understood, but genetic and environmental factors may play a role in its development.
  • Diagnosis of hepatoblastoma typically involves imaging studies such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI to visualize the liver and identify any abnormalities. The symptoms of hepatoblastoma can vary but may include:
    • Abdominal swelling or a palpable mass in the abdomen
    • Abdominal pain or discomfort
    • Poor appetite or weight loss
    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) or spleen (splenomegaly)
  • Treatment for hepatoblastoma usually involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and sometimes liver transplantation. The primary goal of treatment is to remove the tumor completely while preserving as much healthy liver tissue as possible.
    •  A biopsy of the liver may be performed to confirm the presence of cancerous cells and determine the specific type of liver cancer.
    • Chemotherapy may be administered before or after surgery to shrink the tumor and eliminate any remaining cancer cells.

The prognosis for children with hepatoblastoma varies depending on factors such as the stage of the tumor, the extent of spread and the response to treatment. 

Overall, the prognosis is generally favorable, particularly when the tumor is diagnosed at an early stage and treated promptly. The survival rate for hepatoblastoma has improved significantly over the years due to advances in treatment approaches.