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Most physicians today believe that liver hemangiomas are
hereditary, with the tendency to form these benign tumors being present at birth. The tumors take the form of a tangle or clump of blood vessel tissue. However, they are not associated with any known blood disorders, nor are they a sign of other liver disease.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are hard to identify for that reason. Statistically, hemangiomas are more likely to develop between the ages of 30 and 50. Women are more likely to develop liver hemangiomas than men. Women who have been pregnant are more likely to develop the syndrome than women who have not been pregnant. Also, hormone replacement therapy for complications of menopause or other medical reasons increases the likelihood of developing hemangiomas. This suggests that female reproductive hormones, especially estrogen, which is found in greater amounts in women and whose production increases during pregnancy and which is a component of hormone replacement therapy, may play a role in the growth of liver hemangiomas. However, the exact mechanism by which this happens is unknown.

There are no known risk factors for hemangioma that can reasonably be avoided.


Liver hemangioma appears visibly on an ultrasound. It can also be detected in other forms of medical imaging. In most cases, hemangiomas are asymptomatic and are only detected while looking for other, unrelated problems. When a hemangioma grows to a very large size, however, symptoms can occur which include pain, nausea, a feeling of fullness after eating only a small amount, or enlargement of the liver.

When a mass is discovered on the liver, diagnosing liver hemangioma is accomplished by ruling out a malignant mass (liver cancer), which is a far more serious condition. Further medical imaging tests, liver function tests, and a liver biopsy in which a small amount of the mass is removed and examined for signs of cancer, can be used to make this diagnosis. A diagnosis of liver hemangioma, given the existence of a tumor or mass on the liver, is a good thing, because it means that the tumor is not cancerous.

Continued below....

Liver Hemangioma

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On rare occasions, a hemangioma can rupture. A ruptured hemangioma causes internal bleeding, severe pain, and potentially loss of life.

Other than that, the main
complications arise during pregnancy and during hormone therapy. The increased estrogen output in either case may cause existing hemangiomas to grow in size, potentially to the point where treatment becomes necessary. The risk is not sufficient to rule out pregnancy, but an existing hemangioma is a situation which should be monitored during the pregnancy and discussed with a physician. A hemangioma is also not a reason not to proceed with hormone replacement therapy, but again, the situation should be monitored and action taken if it should become necessary.


Liver hemangioma
rarely requires any treatment. In almost all cases, the tumors are harmless and the risks associated with any form of treatment outweigh those of simply leaving the mass alone. Surgical removal is possible and may be recommended if the hemangioma becomes very large and overt symptoms are present.


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A liver hemangioma is a benign (non-cancerous, non-malignant) tumor that appears on the liver. An estimated seven percent of healthy people develop liver hemangiomas, with women being affected more often than men. By itself, a liver hemangioma is not a cause for medical concern unless complications arise. In almost all cases, the tumors produce no overt symptoms and do not threaten the functions of the liver or any other bodily functions.

Liver Hemangioma