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.


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.

Patient resources

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