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A liver hemangioma is a type of hepatic tumor. However, it is considered a "benign" (i.e., non-cancerous) tumor that, in itself, does not pose a serious risk of mortality nor in most cases a serious health risk unless it becomes especially large. Liver hemangioma is found in some seven percent of people who are otherwise healthy. About six times as many women have the disease as men.

Symptoms


A liver hemangioma is normally quite small, no more than 0.6 centimeters in diameter. However, some liver hemangiomas can grow to a larger size, as much as 8 to 10 cm in diameter. Very few liver hemangiomas cause any symptoms. For that reason, most liver hemangiomas can be discovered only in the course of diagnosing other disorders, often through medical imaging such as ultrasound or computerized tomography (CT).


The largest hemangiomas do sometimes have symptoms, especially if they are large enough to put significant pressure on other organs. When symptoms occur, they can include nausea, pain, or a congested stomach that causes a feeling of fullness after very little food intake. Large hemangiomas can, on very rare occasions, burst. Ruptured hematomas result in internal bleeding and sometimes severe pain, and can even present a danger of mortality.


Causes


There is no medical consensus on what causes liver hemangiomas to form, although most doctors believe there are congenital (genetic) factors involved. The tumors are not associated with any other liver diseases such as cirrhosis, fatty liver, or liver cancer. Continued below....


Risk Factors


The period of greatest risk to develop hemangioma liver tumros, should causative factors be active, is between 30 and 50 years of age, especially for women, and even more especially for women who have been pregnant or who are taking hormones either for birth control or as replacement drugs for treatment for menopause.


Although this is not certain and is mainly a deduction from the observed greater incidence of hemangioma in women, pregnant women, and women undergoing hormone therapy, it is speculated that the hormone estrogen may play a role in the formation of the tumors. Estrogen is found in greater concentration in women than in men (although it is present in both sexes).

Treatment

 
Liver hemangioma almost always presents no significant health risk and so almost never requires treatment. As noted above, the tumors are non-cancerous and there is no danger of malignancy. Nor do any but the largest hemangiomas carry other significant dangers. In the case of an especially large hemangioma or one producing unpleasant symptoms, surgery to remove the tumor is an option. However, this is seldom recommended by physicians.

Pregnancy


There is some risk of complications to pregnancy and childbirth from liver hemangioma. This is mainly due to the increased estrogen concentration in the bloodstream during pregnancy. This may cause existing hemangiomas to grow larger, and if the growth is sufficient to bring on symptoms or present a health risk, surgical treatment may become desirable.


This is not a reason a woman should avoid having children, but like other potential risks such as high blood pressure or herpes simplex, it's something for a physician to keep an eye on. Many of the same considerations apply to the use of birth-control pills and to hormone replacement therapy for menopause, for the same reasons.


Also, any other medications which can alter hormone balances, either deliberately or as a side effect, raise the same concerns. As with pregnancy, the main thing is to be aware of the potential problem; liver hemangioma is not an absolute counter-indicator for such medical treatments.

Liver Hemangioma

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