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Liver tumors

Two types of liver tumors occur in children, namely hepatoblastoma and liver carcinoma. Both are very rare. Every year, approximately 1-3 children in the Netherlands are diagnosed with hepatoblastoma. Most of those children are not yet 3 years old. Liver carcinoma (hepatocellular carcinoma) is even rarer and occurs in children three years old and over. Liver tumors are more common in boys than in girls.

The brochure Liver tumors contains comprehensive information about this disease. Please note this brochure is currently only available in Dutch. The most important information is provided below.


Liver tumors are caused by a developmental error in a progenitor cell of one of the liver cells. It is not known exactly what causes this error.


Children with a liver tumor often have no symptoms for quite some time. A swollen abdomen is usually the first indication that something is wrong. Your child may also complain of a stomach ache.

How are liver tumors diagnosed?

Ultrasounds and different types of scans are performed. We also draw blood to test the functioning of the liver.


Children with a liver tumor are treated according to a protocol drawn up by national and international experts. Treatment always consists of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor and surgery to remove the tumor. If surgery is not possible, the treatment team will discuss whether your child is eligible for a liver transplant. This procedure is performed in the liver transplant center at the University Medical Center Groningen.

Chance of recovery

If a hepatoma blastoma is detected early and before it has spread, there is an 80% to 90% chance of recovery. Even if there are metastases, there is a good chance of recovery (50-60%). In the event of a liver cell carcinoma, the chance of recovery strongly depends on the complete removal of the tumor and/or on any metastases.


Children and adolescents with a liver tumor are treated in the solid tumors department.