The first thing that you need to do if you’re diagnosed with a Liver Hemangioma is stop panicking!
It’s a benign (non-cancerous) mass or tumor made up of tangled up blood vessels that’s usually found only when testing for something else.
It might be kind of nerve-wracking to know that you have a mass but really, it’s usually nothing to worry about because there’s no connection between a liver hemangioma and liver cancer or any other kind of liver disease.
What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Liver Hemangioma?
Nobody really knows what causes a hemangioma, but it appears to be congenital, which means you were probably born with it. Most likely the very thing that you’re freaking out about right now has always been there; the only difference is that now you know.
In most people, the hemangioma never grows and there’s never any symptoms but in very small number of people, and for no discernible reason, it will get larger, cause the following symptoms and require treatment:
• Decreased appetite
• Pain in the upper right quadrant of your stomach
• The sensation of being full after eating only a small amount
If you experience any of these symptoms long-term it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor. Some factors that may increase your risk of becoming symptomatic include age, sex (women tend to develop hemangiomas more frequently than men), pregnancy, and using hormone replacement therapy.
What Are the Risks of Liver Hemangioma?
There really are none unless you become symptomatic. There may be complications if you become pregnant because estrogen may cause the hemangioma to grow bigger and cause symptoms that require treatment.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant but you should talk to your doctor beforehand.
There also some controversial opinions that suggest that medications such as birth control that mess with your hormone levels may have an effect on hemongioma. Again, if you’re considering any of these medications, just speak with your doctor about the risks.
How Will They Diagnose My Hemangioma and What’s the Treatment?
If your doctor suspects that you have a hemangioma, you will most likely undergo an ultrasound, a CT scan, an MRI or a SPECT test. None of these liver tests are invasive and you won’t need any medication to undergo any of them.
Should you be one of the very few people who actually require more treatment than simply monitoring your hemangioma, there are several options. The first treatment would be surgery. If the growth can be easily separated from the liver, then surgery may be a viable option. However, if the hemangioma can’t be separated then a piece of your liver will be removed as well.
Another solution is to stop the blood flow to the hemangioma. This is done by tying off the artery leading in to it. When the blood flow stops, the tumor may stop growing and may even shrink.
The final two options are only last-choice options and include radiation therapy or a liver transplant. For obvious reasons, these two options are very rarely utilized. The tumor’s benign and most likely isn’t going to do any harm so the risks of these alternative treatments for hemangioma far outweigh the benefits.