Abnormal growth on the surface of the liver is referred to as lesions on the liver. Liver lesions can be benign or malignant. Benign lesions are more common than the malignant or cancerous lesions. Sometimes, the masses of lesions (tumors) on the liver are painless and do not exhibit any symptoms.
If the liver lesions do not indicate any liver disease, then no treatment is required, but cancerous lesions on the liver require prompt treatment. Lesions can be solid lesions or cystic lesions (filled with fluid). A lesion is nothing but some kind of abnormal growth on the liver tissue.
Causes of Liver Lesions
Liver hemangiomas are more common in women than in men. Hemangiomas can be present anywhere, on the skin, in the lungs. Hemangiomas are more often found on the liver. They are benign tumors consisting of a mass of blood vessels. They do not exhibit any symptoms. Doctors usually notice hemangiomas on liver during an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI of the abdomen performed for some other purpose. There can be a single tumor or numerous tumors, but they normally do not require any treatment.
Exact cause of hemangiomas is not known but it is believed that estrogen plays an important role in development of hemangiomas. Change in the hormonal levels during pregnancy, during hormone replacement therapy, is thought to be the reason behind the development of hemangiomas in women. If hemangiomas are causing uncontrollable symptoms, then only, surgery is performed.
Sarcoidosis is a chronic disease (exact cause of which is not known) in which lesions on the liver are noticed. The lesions do not exhibit symptoms. Sarcoidosis can also lead to the formation of nodules in the lungs, lymph glands and salivary glands.
Cystic diseases of the liver often result in formation of lesions on liver. Fluid-filled solid masses can be noticed.
Women are more susceptible to adenomas than men. Overuse of oral contraceptives or birth control pills are said to cause adenomas in women. When adenomas are discovered through ultrasound or MRI test or biopsy, discontinuation of oral contraceptives is advised. Adenomas can lead to occasional bleeding, nausea, vomiting and fever. The person may experience a weird feeling of abdominal fullness. 10% of adenomas can be cancerous.
Simple Liver Cyst
This is a form of congenital liver lesion. A single cyst, present inside the liver tissue can be as big as 8 cms in diameter. The cyst is drained into the abdominal cavity to relieve the symptoms.
Focal Nodular Hyperplasia (FNH)
Focal Fatty Change
If the fat inside the liver is not equally distributed, then focal fatty change can be noticed. In fatty liver disease, accumulation of fat inside the liver can lead to lesions on liver. Focal fatty change is more common in people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, hepatitis C, obesity and chronic liver diseases. MRI scan helps diagnose the condition and severity of symptoms is taken into consideration while determining the treatment.
These are the cysts on the bile duct and can be congenital or can develop in the later stages of life. Benign lesions are often asymptomatic but malignant cysts can lead to pain under right rib, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, etc. Biopsy and radiological tests help determine the nature of the cysts and treatment.
Polycystic Liver Disease (PCLD)
PCLD is another type of congenital lesion on liver and even on kidneys. More than one lesions are usually present and as they grow, they may cause pain and other symptoms. Various tests are performed to understand the nature of the lesions. Liver and/or kidney transplant may be required.
Diseases and Injuries
Other causes of lesions on liver include:
- Parasitic and bacterial infections
- Liver cirrhosis
- Liver injuries during accidents
- Hemochromatosis (too much of iron in the body damages the liver tissue)
- Chronic hepatitis B and C
- Liver diseases caused by genetic factors
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
Cancerous lesions on the liver can spread to nearby organs like pancreas. Similarly pancreatic cancer can spread to the liver. If you have pain under the right rib cage where liver is situated, you should immediately consult your doctor.