Hepatoblastoma

What is hepatoblastoma?
Hepatoblastoma is a cancer of the liver that affects young children and infants.

What causes hepatoblastoma?
The exact cause of hepatoblastoma is not known. Research has shown that it can be associated with prematurity, low birth weight or a family history of cancer, however a child with any of these risk factors may not necessarily develop hepatoblastoma.

What are the symptoms of hepatoblastoma?
Patients usually do not exhibit any symptoms at diagnosis. The tumor is usually found on a routine physical examination in the form of a mass on the abdomen, or discovered by the parents. Weight loss, abdominal distension, fever, vomiting and jaundice are other nonspecific symptoms that may be signs of hepatoblastoma.

How is hepatoblastoma diagnosed?
If physicians at KHCC suspect that a child has hepatoblastoma, they will run a number of tests and diagnostic procedures to determine where exactly in the body the tumor is located, how fast-growing it is and how much it has spread. Physicians may run the following tests:
• Ultrasound to define the tumor and make initial diagnosis
•  Alpha feto protein blood test: This protein is elevated in newborn but drops to normal level (<10) by the age of 6 months. Most tumors have elevated levels (sometimes more than 1 million at time of diagnosis). The level drops to normal with effective therapy and can be used to follow response and predict recurrence.
•  Biopsy to take a small piece of the tumor to make a definite diagnosis.

How is hepatoblastoma treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the child depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Treatment is generally with effective chemotherapy followed by surgery and 2 cycles of chemotherapy after surgery.

Physicians
Pediatric patients receive top quality care from a multidisciplinary team of pediatric oncology specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating hepatoblastomas and other childhood tumors.

Supportive Care
The pediatric multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that pediatric cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: