Pediatric Liver Cancer

Pediatric Liver Cancer

Hepatoblastoma, Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Other Liver Cancers

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Children with liver cancer benefit from the combined expertise of Duke Children's pediatric oncologists (cancer specialists) and hepatologists (liver specialists). Our team also includes nurse practitioners, physician assistants, radiologists, infectious disease specialists, dietitians, and social workers. We provide the full range of services and support to your child and family.

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Diagnosing Liver Cancer in Children

Liver cancer develops in children when young liver cells form a tumor. The two most common types of pediatric liver cancer are: 

  • Hepatoblastoma, which usually affects young children
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma, which can affect children of any age

There are other, rarer types of pediatric liver cancer.

Diagnosing your child’s liver cancer quickly and accurately is our first goal. When you contact us for an appointment, we make sure your child is seen quickly. Tests will be done to help our doctors diagnose and stage your child’s liver cancer and recommend the best treatment plan. These include:

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging exams such as ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans
  • Biopsy, in which sample cells or tissue are taken from the liver to be examined under a microscope
  • Genetic testing, which may be performed to determine if your child’s liver cancer is related to a genetic syndrome
Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Treatments

Your child receives a personalized treatment and follow-up plan that’s tailored to their needs. Treatment may include:

Liver Resection Surgery

Removes the tumor and surrounding tissue but leaves a portion of healthy liver intact. The liver regenerates over time and regains healthy function.

Liver Transplant

In rare cases, the entire liver may need to be removed and replaced with a healthy liver. We are one of the few hospitals in the region with the experience to perform liver transplants in children.

Chemotherapy

May be used before surgery to shrink the tumor as much as possible, and afterward to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy is given through an IV infusion, in a pill or liquid form, or an injection.

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Family and Support Services

We treat the whole child -- not just the disease. You have access to a variety of services that are designed to make your child’s experience as positive as possible and to support your family throughout treatment.

Extended Cancer Outpatient Services

We offer outpatient services -- such as chemotherapy, transfusions, and lab tests -- 12 hours a day, seven days a week at Duke Children’s Valvano Day Hospital. This means your child won’t need to be admitted to the hospital just because they feel ill or need treatment on a day when their doctor’s office is closed.

Quality-of-Life Care

Our team focuses on managing your child’s symptoms and other aspects of treatment that affect your child’s quality of life. We help with pain management, supportive nutrition, relaxation techniques, and more to help your child get through treatment. We’re here to improve your child’s and your family’s well-being during treatment and hospitalization.

Child and Adolescent Life

We try to make your child's cancer treatment a little easier on your entire family. Whether it's explaining a procedure, offering encouragement, or arranging fun activities during therapy or a hospital stay, your child gets care in a welcoming, kid-friendly environment. Additionally, you and your family can get emotional support and education to help you cope as your child goes through treatment and recovery.

Teen and Young Adult Program

Teens and young adults are too old to be treated like young kids, but adult care might not be quite right for them, either. Our Adolescent and Young Adult Program brings together the expertise of pediatric and adult cancer specialists to determine what’s best for each person, along with personalized psychological support. We customize treatment and services that consider your child’s unique needs, including support and guidance to help them cope with the ways treatment affects their social life and their high school or college activities.  

Care Coordination and Support

Our social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child needs. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect with resources, and manage the details related to your child’s care. Our nurse coordinators can help you schedule appointments for tests, treatments, and other medical visits.

Childhood Cancer Survivorship Care

We offer long-term follow-up services for preventive health care, including screenings, ongoing surveillance, and care for symptoms that may develop later as a result of treatment. Our cancer care doctors and nurses work with social workers and child psychologists who can offer support and assistance with school-related or personal issues. In addition, we can help your child transition to adult cancer care services when they're ready. You’ll have resources and support to ensure your child’s long-term well-being.

Best Children's Hospital in NC
In addition to being among the best in the country, Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.

Our Expertise in Treating Pediatric Liver Cancer

Minimally Invasive Techniques
Whenever possible, our surgeons use minimally invasive techniques. These techniques require smaller incisions and help your child feel better faster.

One of the Best Surgery Centers
Duke Children’s is one of a small number of U.S. hospitals designated as Level I children's surgery centers by the American College of Surgeons. This Level I designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care for our young patients. It also recognizes resources we offer -- such as specialists in radiology, anesthesia, pediatric nursing, and more -- that may not be available at other hospitals.

Access to the Latest Treatments 
As members of the Children's Oncology Group, our pediatric oncologists collaborate with other cancer specialists in the world’s largest child and adolescent cancer research organization. This ensures that your child benefits from the combined expertise of leading cancer researchers and has access to the latest treatments through clinical trials.