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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Childhood hepatocellular carcinoma


Other Names for this Disease
  • Childhood Carcinoma of Liver Cell
  • Childhood Hepatoma
  • Childhood Liver Cell Carcinoma
  • Pediatric Carcinoma of Liver Cell
  • Pediatric Hepatocellular Carcinoma
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Your Question

What causes hepatocellular carcinoma in children? Was it environmental or genetic factors?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is childhood hepatocellular carcinoma?

Childhood hepatocellular carcinoma (childhood HCC) is a rare type of malignant (cancerous) tumor that forms in the cells and tissues of the liver.[1] Childhood HCC is usually found in older children and adolescents (10-14 years), but has been found in children younger than 5.[2] Symptoms may include a mass in the abdomen, a swollen and painful abdomen, weight loss, poor appetite, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), vomiting, fever, itchy skin, and a decreased number of red blood cells (anemia).[3][1] The cause of childhood HCC is not well understood; however, underlying disorders that cause liver dysfunction (ex. hepatitis B) and congenital or genetic disorders that affect the liver (ex. tyrosinemia type 1) may increase the risk for childhood HCC to occur.[1][2] Treatment options vary depending on a variety of factors including the stage of the cancer and may include surgery to remove the tumor and chemotherapy.[1]
Last updated: 7/14/2016

What causes childhood hepatocellular carcinoma?

The cause of childhood hepatocellular carcinoma (childhood HCC) is not well understood. Unlike adult HCC, childhood HCC may be found in individuals with no underlying liver disease.[1]

Children living in regions of the world where the hepatitis B virus is common have been reported to have a much greater risk of developing this disease. Chronic infection by hepatitis C virus has also been linked to the development of childhood HCC.[4] Childhood HCC has also been reported to develop in the presence of liver disease, cirrhosis, and genetic disorders such as tyrosinemia type 1, glycogen storage disease type 1, and glycogen storage disease type IV.[2]

In addition, various other reported risk factors for developing childhood HCC include: male sex, family history of this carcinoma, and exposure to aflatoxin by food contamination.[4][3]

Last updated: 7/14/2016

How common is childhood hepatocellular carcinoma?

The frequency of childhood hepatocellular carcinoma (childhood HCC) varies significantly worldwide. It is estimated to occur in about one out of two million people per year.[3][2] Males tend to be diagnosed more often than females.[2] Childhood HCC is found more commonly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Researcher suggest this is due to a higher incidence of hepatitis B and aflatoxin exposure.[1]
Last updated: 7/14/2016

References
Other Names for this Disease
  • Childhood Carcinoma of Liver Cell
  • Childhood Hepatoma
  • Childhood Liver Cell Carcinoma
  • Pediatric Carcinoma of Liver Cell
  • Pediatric Hepatocellular Carcinoma
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.