Pediatric Liver Cancer
Hepatoblastoma, Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Other Liver Cancers
Children with hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer, need the combined expertise of pediatric oncologists and hepatologists, who give your child the best chance to live a long, happy life. Our team 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 your family.
Diagnosing Liver Cancer in Children
Liver cancer develops in children when young liver cells form a tumor. These are the two most common types of pediatric liver cancer:
- Hepatoblastoma usually affects young children
- Hepatocellular carcinoma 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 your child’s 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 -- and a biopsy, which removes cells or tissue from the liver to be reviewed under a microscope
- Genetic testing, which may be performed to determine if your child’s liver cancer is related to a genetic syndrome
Our Expertise in Treating Pediatric Liver Cancer
- Whenever possible, our surgeons leave a portion of the healthy liver intact, which regenerates over time and regains healthy function. They also use minimally invasive techniques when possible These techniques require smaller incisions and let your child feel better faster. However, 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 partial liver resections and liver transplants in children.
- Duke Children’s is one of only five child surgery centers in the country designated a top-level performer by the American College of Surgeons. The Level 1 designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care for our young patients. It also recognizes our resources -- specialists in radiology, anesthesia, pediatric nursing, and more -- that may not be available at other hospitals.
- As members of the Children's Oncology Group, our pediatric oncologists collaborate with cancer specialists through the world’s largest childhood and adolescent cancer research organization. That ensures your child receives the combined expertise of leading cancer researchers and has access to the latest treatments through clinical trials.
- You stay well-informed and supported. We offer a wide range of services to help -- emotional support for the entire family, care to minimize treatment side effects, help with coordinating your child’s care, and much more. We're here to support you and your child, and offer guidance whenever you need us.
PEDIATRIC LIVER CANCER
Removes the tumor and surrounding tissue but leaves a portion of healthy liver intact.
May be an option for some children with liver cancer.
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.
PEDIATRIC LIVER CANCER
Family and Support Services
We treat the whole child -- not just the disease. Your child receives a personalized treatment and follow-up plan that’s tailored to their needs. You have access to a variety of services that are designed to make your child’s experience as positive as possible and support your family throughout treatment.
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 your doctor’s office is closed.
We want your child to be as comfortable as possible during treatment. 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.
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.
Once treatment is complete, you can count on us for continuing support. 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.
When your child is fighting cancer, it's difficult for the entire family. We try to make it a little easier on you. 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.
It's helpful to have a team on your side to help you manage your child’s care. 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 you with resources, and help you manage the details related to your child’s care. Our nurse coordinators can help you schedule appointments for tests, treatments, and other medical visits.