Solid Tumor: Hepatoblastoma
Alternate Names: None
What is hepatoblastoma?
Hepatoblastoma is a type of liver cancer that is usually found in babies and children up to age 3.
How common is hepatoblastoma?
Hepatoblastoma is rare, diagnosed in fewer than one in a million children.
Children have a higher risk for developing hepatoblastoma if they have one of more of the following factors:
- Were born prematurely with very low birth weights
- Have hemihyperplasia—one side of the body growing faster than the other
- Have an inherited condition called familial adenomatous polyposis. Affected family members develop multiple, initially noncancerous polyps in the colon that become cancerous if not removed.
- Have Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. Babies with this disorder are large at birth; develop low blood sugar; and often have large tongues, large internal organs and problems in the area near their “belly buttons.”
What are the symptoms of hepatoblastoma?
Symptoms of hepatoblastoma include the following:
- Swollen abdomen
- Pain in the abdomen (belly)
- Back pain
- Itchy skin
- Yellowish eyes and/or skin (jaundice)
- Pale skin and lips (may mean anemia)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
How is hepatoblastoma treated?
- Surgery — is used to remove all of the tumor. It is the most important part of treatment. If the entire liver is affected, a liver transplant may be needed to remove all of the tumor.
- In about half of all children with hepatoblastoma, the tumors are small, and surgeons can remove them right away.
- If the tumor is large, the patient will usually have chemotherapy before surgery, to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove.
- Chemotherapy (“chemo”) — uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing (dividing) and making more cancer cells:
- Chemo for this cancer is injected into the bloodstream, so that it can travel throughout the body.
- Combination therapy uses more than one type of chemo at a time.
What are the survival rates for hepatoblastoma?
- The survival rate is more than 80% if the tumor is only in the liver and can be completely removed with surgery after chemotherapy.
- Survival rates for children whose tumors involve the entire liver or have spread outside the liver range from 20% to 70% at three to five years after diagnosis.
Why choose St. Jude for your child’s hepatoblastoma treatment?
- St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.
- St. Jude has created more clinical trials for cancer than any other children’s hospital in the United States.
- The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is unmatched— averaging 1:3 in hematology and oncology, and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit.
- St. Jude offers a dedicated team of specialists to meet the needs of children with hepatoblastoma, including: surgeons; doctors and nurses who treat this cancer; doctors who specialize in pathology (making a diagnosis by looking at tumor tissue under the microscope) and in radiation therapy; experts in diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine; genetic counselors; nutritionists; child life specialists; psychologists; researchers; scientists; and many others.
- Complete, quality surgery is an important part of treating hepatoblastoma. The expert skills and experience of St. Jude specialty surgeons can help improve patients’ chances for best outcomes.
- St. Jude has access to new “experimental” medicines that can be used if the cancer comes back or becomes resistant to the initial treatment.
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