Hepatoblastoma and other liver tumours

Primary liver tumours, both benign and malignant, are rare in childhood and adolescence. Hepatoblastoma is the most frequent primary liver tumour, mostly occuring in newborns, infants and toddlers. This text provides information expecially on hepatoblastoma. Further liver tumours (such as hepatocellular carcinoma) are but briefly mentioned in this introduction, some of the tumours (such as sarcomas) being described elsewhere on this website.

Author:  Maria Yiallouros, Reviewer:  Prof. Dr. med. Irene Schmid, English Translation:  Dr. med. habil. Gesche Tallen, Last modification: 2024/03/19 https://kinderkrebsinfo.de/doi/e77085

Liver tumours that have arisen from liver tissue (primary liver tumours) are rare in children and adolescents. They account for less than 2 % of all paediatric tumours and may be benign or malignant. Malignant liver tumours (liver cancer) represent about 1 % of all malignancies in childhood and adolescence.

The most frequent primary tumour of the liver is hepatoblastoma. This highly malignant tumour accounts for about 43 % of all primary liver tumours. Other primary, malignant liver tumours are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with approximately 23 % and sarcomas (circa 6 %). Benign primary liver tumours are haemangiomas (about 13 % of liver tumours), hamartomas (6 %), adenomas (2 %) and the focal nodular hyperplasia (2 %), to name a few.

The different types of liver tumours appear preferably in typical age periods. Hepatoblastoma primarily affects toddlers between six months and three years of age, while hepatocellular carcinoma rather affects school children and adolescents.In newborns, haemangioma is the most frequent liver tumour. Taken together, 75 % of primary childhood liver tumours are malignant, the majority affects infants and toddlers. The following table presents a summary.

Primary liver tumours in children and adolescents by incidence and age of diagnosis
Tumour malignancy
Kind of tumour
Age group
Malignant tumours
43 %
Newborns, infants, toddlers
Hepatocellular carcinoma
23 %
School children, adolescents
6 %
School children, adolescents
Benign tumours
13 %
Newborns, infants, toddlers
6 %
Newborns, infants, toddlers
2 %
School children, adolescents
Focal nodular hyperplasia
2 %
School children, adolescents

Aside from primary tumours, metastases of other cancers, such as leukaemias, lymphomas, neuroblastoma, nephroblastoma and pancreatic tumours, can occur in the liver as well. Information on those malignancies can be found elsewhere in this portal.

Important: all children and adolescents with a primary liver tumour should – due to anatomical complexity of the liver and resulting surgical challenges – be treated by experienced paediatric oncologists and surgeons. In particular malignant tumours are associated with unfavourable prognosis if not treated adequately.

The following chapters will inform you about the most frequent liver tumour, hepatoblastoma. Information on soft tissue sarcomas can be found here.


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Table of Contents

  • Hepatoblastoma (Brief information)
    A hepatoblastoma is a malignant tumour of the liver, which particularly occurs in newly-borns, babies and infants. This text provides information about the characteristics of this disease, its frequencies, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.