Hepatic Steatosis

Hepatic Steatosis (Fatty Liver Disease)

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"Liver lesions" is a term that can be applied to any of various abnormalities of the liver, including those produced by serious conditions such as liver cancer or cirrhosis but much more commonly those that result from more benign conditions such as cysts or liver hemangioma.

Statistically, liver lesions are far more often the result of benign causes than of dangerous ones. Benign liver lesions do not become malignant with time. Although liver lesions can be a sign of (or consist of) dangerous liver conditions, most of the time they are not a cause for concern. It is disconcerting to find out that an abnormal growth has appeared on such a vital organ as your liver, but it's a common occurrence and not a reason to panic.

Liver Cysts

About one person in a hundred will develop cysts on the liver that produce no symptoms and are detectable only with diagnostic imaging such as an ultrasound. In 95 percent of cases, liver cysts pose no threat and are simply cysts. In about half of all cases, patients have two or more cysts rather than just one. Unless the cysts are accompanied by symptoms, your doctor is unlikely to advocate surgical removal or any other treatment.

Liver Hemangioma

The most common form of liver lesion is liver hemangioma, a benign tumor that normally causes no symptoms and poses no danger. On rare occasions, an especially large hemangioma will cause symptoms such as pain, nausea, or enlarged liver, and may be removed surgically. Otherwise, they pose no danger and no treatment is generally recommended. Continued below....

Liver Cell Adenoma

Less common than hemangioma is liver cell adenoma. This non-cancerous tumor or liver lesion is uncommon, but may occur most often in women of childbearing age. An increase in the occurrence of liver cell adenoma during the 1960s on introduction of oral contraceptives. This trend was partially reversed by the reduced dosage of hormones in modern-day birth-control pills.

Focal Nodular Hyperplasia

Focal nodular hyperplasia is the second most common form of liver lesion, after hemangioma. It is difficult to distinguish from hemangioma without surgical resection. Unlike liver cell adenoma, it has no association with oral contraceptives. Focal nodular hyperplasia is non-malignant, usually asymptomatic, and rarely grows, bleeds, or presents any other significant danger.

Fibroma Of The Liver

Another common form of benign liver lesion is fibroma. Fibromas are fibrous tumors that can grow in any part of the body. It is composed of fibrous or connective tissues. As with other benign liver lesions, liver fibroma is not malignant, does not present any danger, and is almost always asymptomatic. As with other benign liver lesions, generally speaking no treatment is recommended.

Liver Lesions And Cancer

Although most liver lesions are asymptomatic, benign, and non-problematic, liver lesions can also in some cases be a form of cancer. Liver cancer can start in the liver or, more commonly, result from a metastasis of a cancer that originates in another part of the body. A liver cancer is, of course, a very serious and potentially life-threatening condition requiring treatment. Like most cancers and also like benign liver lesions it is generally asymptomatic in the early stages.

Liver lesions may also result from fibrosis or cirrhosis, the latter particularly being a very serious and potentially dangerous condition requiring treatment and, in extreme cases, a liver transplant. However, cirrhosis of the liver is usually accompanied by symptoms.

What you should take away from all this is that liver lesions are not necessarily a cause for concern, but there is a small chance they may be a sign of something serious. If your doctor detects any of these liver abnormalities, don't panic -- but do follow up.

Liver Lesions