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  HomePatient's ResourcesHepatoblastoma


What is hepatoblastoma?
It is the most common malignant liver tumor in childhood.

Is this a serious condition?
This is a malignant tumor. Treatment in most cases would usually imply the loss of a proportion of liver with some requiring total liver resection and liver transplantation. Treatment results have been very good with many long term survivors.

How is it detected?
Patients commonly present with a large abdominal mass or abdominal pain. Hepatoblastoma usually produces alpha-fetoprotein which is identified in a simple blood test. Serum alpha-fetoprotein is a reliable tumor marker for diagnosis and follow-up assessment. Further evaluations would include ultrasonography, CT scan or MRI that help in the assessment of tumor resectability. Image-guided needle biopsy may be required to determine the tumor’s histopathology.

How is it treated?
These tumors are routinely treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. A complete surgical removal of the liver tumor with a rim of normal liver cells gives the best outcome. Preservation of sufficient normal liver would ensure adequate liver function. Patients with unresectable disease may receive preoperative chemotherapy. When the tumor has responded, surgical resection may proceed. Selected patients with multifocal liver tumors may consider liver transplantation after preoperative chemotherapy.  

Will the child live a normal life with a smaller liver after successful treatment?
Most certainly. One of the key considerations besides removing a complete tumor is to leave the child with sufficient liver for him to function normally.

Is hepatoblastoma an inherited disease?
Most hepatoblastomas are sporadic and not inherited. However, hepatoblastoma has been found to be present in families with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) syndrome.  


Dr Chui Chan Hon
Surgery Centre for Children Pte Ltd

3 Mount Elizabeth #06-08,
Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, Singapore, 228510

Contact No: (65) 6733 7381
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