DIGESTIVE DISORDERS / GASTROENTEROLOGY
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Liver Lesions Found
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by Benson, Dec 23, 2003
What causes liver lesions. How common are they? Is there any significance in the the number of lesions seen? How often do they change into liver cancer? Is there any treatment that will help? (Alternative or mainstream)
Answer:
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by Kevin Pho, MDBlank, Dec 24, 2003
There are many causes for liver lesions.  They can include malignant causes such as cancer, or benign causes like cysts, hepatic adenomas, hemangiomas, focal nodular hyperplasia, or infectious causes.  

As for the frequency, it will depend on what kind of liver lesion is in question.  I would say that benign causes of liver lesions are more common than malignant ones.  

The number of lesions does not normally point to a diagnosis.  The best way for further evaluation would be imaging such a CT scan or MRI or biopsy.

To my knowledge, benign liver lesions do not "change" into cancer.  It is either cancerous or not from the beginning.  

Treatment would depend on what the lesions are.  Some lesions, such as cysts are simply observed.  Other lesions may be resected, based on what it is and the size.  

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

***I will be away and have limited internet access from December 26th to January 4th. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.***

Take care,
Kevin, M.D.
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Member Comments (25)
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by bbmax, Dec 24, 2003
Since the doc is away, I will try to give you some information. I am a nurse but am posting as a patient. I had a CT scan for a hernia check and "liver lesions" showed up. I have no symptoms and lab work indicates no problem with my liver. Lesions are often cysts or non-malignant "masses" called hemangiomas. You may need testing to differentiate what your lesions are. Biopsy of the lesions is the most definitive. Lesions are rarely liver cancer as the primary site except for people who are heavy drinkers or who have had hepatitis. Other possibilities are the lesions are metastasis from another cancer site ie lung, colon, or breast. The most likely scenario is that the lesions are NOT cancer but you need to get more information. Your posting does not indicate how the lesions were found or if you have any symptoms of illness. You can search archives on the board for more info on liver lesions. I hope you may be a little more relaxed after reading this as I remember how I felt when the surgeon mentioned "liver lesions". I have had follow-up CTs and will have another one in February to see if there are changes. The CTs are not always able to make a "for sure" definitive diagnosis so I chose to do the followups rather than have biopsy.
Good luck and please post with more information if you want to.
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by bbmax, Dec 24, 2003
Just to add on, hemangiomas are very common but usually we would never know we had them unless we have a CT scan or MRI. Multiple lesions that are benign are common and do not increase chance of it being cancerous.
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by Benson, Jan 06, 2004
Thank you for your comforting words....I did not even know there were liver lesions except for cancer....so I have been very
scared.

I had a CT scan....all cysts were benign...but could not see
two very well...so I had a MRI....same deal the two could not
be called as benign or malignent.  Red tag hemagioma test was
negative.  I saw the Gastroenterologist yesterday and I am scheduled for a liver biopsy on Thursday.  He said he thought
I was about 99% on the benign side because I have had no symptoms and my blood work was normal.  Physical exam was
all normal.

The two lesions in question were the smallest of all...do you
think that could be the reason they are not being read easily.

I am of course still very nervous even tho' my Doctor seem to
give me a favorable outlook.  He said think of these as if you
saw a bunch of grapes on a table and couldn't see two....wouldn't
you assume the two you couldn't see were...grapes?  So, it stands
to reason we have two more cysts.

Any comments?       Thank you for the comments.


p.s.  I am a middle age woman, healthy....small ache occasionally
in my side.  I have just had a mammogram.  I have had a total
hysterectomy.   These were found on a routine ultrasound for
gallbladder.  Gallbladder was normal.  Thanks.
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by bbmax, Jan 07, 2004
Benson, I know just how you feel but you are more in the clear than I am as I did not have an MRI. I am just having the follow-up CT on February 25 and am nervous too. It is such a life-changing diagnosis if the lesions are not benign that anyone would be scared. It is like when you get an HIV test routinely for insurance and you have virtually NO chance of being positive BUT you are scared because the implications of a positive test are so profound. I opted to just do the follow-up CT as I did not want a liver biopsy (no reason except I just didn't want it and I have heard that even a biopsy might not be conclusive). Did you have the AFP lab test and was it OK? That relates to tumor activity. I almost hate the whole CT technology because it finds a lot of things that are benign that you would never know you had if not for the CT. The anxiety it generates is almost too much to bear. The nurses I work with used to joke we should get a total body scan but then realized we didn't want to know if anything is wrong! Please let me know what happens with the biopsies. I will let you know about my follow-up CT. I am not really religious but I will send positive energy and thoughts for you. If all turns out well, we should both work harder to appreciate our lives, right?
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by Benson, Jan 07, 2004
Thanks for the positive energy!!!  I will do the same your way
wherever your way is!

I don't know of the test that you referred to....I had blood
work done the day that I fatefully went in for a bladder
infection and indigestion!!!!!  The parts of it that I know
are about the liver are as follows:  Bilirubin 0.5,  Alkaline Phosphatase, Serum...81,  AST 13,  and ALT  15.   My Doctor
said all were normal.

You are right, as of Monday, it will be a month and for most
of that time...I have been terrified!  I feel better after
speaking to the Gastroenterologist.....but my GP was hopeless.
He would never call me..and never gave test results.  I learned most of what I know on the internet.  My GP  was sort of a
natural health Doctor as well as an MD....which I liked.  He
wore sandals and had his dog in the office, which I loved.....but
now I realize, when it comes to tests, you want white coats and
stainless steel!!!!!

I have taken estrogen for almost 30 years on the advice of
several Doctors...no progesterone....and I think that has
agravated a preexisting condition.  I have taken myself off of
that.

Anyway,  the odds are on my side.....but the "what ifs"  are
winning the war tonight as I ponder my next few days.

Do stay in touch, with your situation.....and more words of
encouragement...or information.  

Thank you for your message.      Judy
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by bbmax, Jan 07, 2004
Dear Judy, is your test tomorrow? If so, take a deep breath and just get it over with. Every time I have gone for a CT, I have felt very humbled and small and "sickly" like all the techs probably felt sorry for me! But I just forced myself to get it done and tried not to worry. I have the tests at the same hospital where I work and then, for good or bad, I can access the results on the computer...that is pretty daunting. Anyway, the AFP is a non-maternal alpha-feto protein test that shows liver tumor activity if it is increased. It is true that hormones can cause liver hemangiomas and maybe liver cysts to grow. As I said before, I wish I never knew about all this!! Liver cancer is almost never found in patients who are not alcolholics or who have had Hepatitis. But my docs thought it might be a spread of cancer from another place...I had the mammogram and other tests and I have no symptoms so I am hoping that it is all OK. It most probably is for both of us. I admit I am now jealous of everyone who has not had a CT and does not know what might be lurking!
I live in SF Bay Area. I am going to go to a naturopath for liver detox advice/diet. I have friends who have had good results from having healthier diets. I will let you know what happens with the naturopath (she had a MD as well).
I will think of you tomorrow....
christine
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by Benson, Jan 07, 2004
Christine,  Yes my test is tomorrow around 3:00 p.m.....Little Rock, Ark. time.  So, think of me.  I think they will give me
quite a bit of sedative...so I am trying not to be a baby and
be brave!!!!   I know what you mean.....I hate feeling
like such a pitiful victim when I go get a test.  I am trying
to read something into every word or facial grimace!  I can
tell you one thing....they will have to drag me kicking and
screaming to the next machine that looks inside you!

I have always believed in vitamins and healthy eating....I don't
drink or smoke and if this is a bad report...I am certainly
going to have "egg on my face"....because I have encouraged
this with my friends for years!  We don't have a naturopath
here in Little Rock...but my husband works in Chicago and we
spend our summers there, so I could go for a work up there.
Please let me know what you find out.  I don't know how long
my posting stays on the board, but lets stay in touch...I will
send you my e-mail address if you need it.  

I did see on another site some information, which I did not read,
on chinese herbs.  Honestly, I don't know what to do at this
point....I feel like I am a walking time bomb!!!!

My Doctor says this is very common....I wish I could let that
sink in and feel lucky....but until my test comes back....I
will be..........cleaning out all of my closets...and tying up
loose ends!!!!!   Just kidding.....sort of.   Judy
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by maan, Jan 08, 2004
Hi, Im 43 year old male from Maldives (A group of islands in the indian ocean) Some 6 months back when I went to Thailand for a medical treatment, I did a full medical check up. After reading the reports, the doc said there is nothing wrong with my blood, kidney function is normal, liver function is normal, but an enlarged liver, and after looking at the ultra sound report of my liver he said that there is a "poorly defined echoic lesion on the liver" he said it could be tumor mass or a fatty object. When he told me that I felt that Im going to collaps. Since he said that I have this on my mind 24/7, Can you tell me what this axactly means "Poorly defined echoic lesion" Is this dangerous? Im very afraid. Please help.