In the UK, around 10 children are diagnosed with  malignant primary liver tumours each year.  Primary liver tumours are those that start in the liver. 

There are two main types of liver tumours:



This most commonly affects children under the age of 5. About 8 children a year in the UK are diagnosed with this type of cancer. This cancer type has survival rates of around 80% at 5 years. 


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)

This usually occurs in  older children and is less common, with 2 children on average diagnosed each year. Hepatocellular carcinoma has lower survival rates than hepatoblastoma with only 30% 5 year survival.



  • A lump of swelling in the tummy (abdomen)
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss



A variety of investigations will be carried out to diagnose a hepatic tumour. These may include an ultrasound scan, blood tests, an MRI and a biopsy will usually be needed.



Treatment usually involves a combination of chemotherapy and surgery to remove the tumour. In some children, if the tumour affects all areas of the liver, the child may need a liver transplant to enable the tumour to be completely removed.


If you are reading this page:

If you are reading this page, the likelihood is that you are worried your child or a child close to you may have cancer. Alternatively, they may have recently been diagnosed. If you have any concerns or queries, please discuss them with a member of your child's health care team. If you are unsure, it is always better to have your child reviewed.


Content reviewed July 2021