Hepatocellular Carcinoma Clinical Presentation

Updated: Sep 29, 2017
  • Author: Luca Cicalese, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, AGAF  more...
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Presentation

History and Physical Examination

In general, the tumors in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are discovered either during routine screening or when symptomatic because of their size or location. Tumors may present as a single mass lesion or as diffuse growth, which can be difficult to differentiate from the surrounding cirrhotic liver tissue and the regenerating liver nodules on imaging studies. The presentation may be caused in part by mass effect that can lead to obstruction of the biliary system or anywhere affecting the liver vasculature. Without aggressive surgical resection, ablative therapy, or liver transplantation, HCC results in liver failure and eventual death. (See the images below.)

Large hepatocellular carcinoma. Image courtesy of Large hepatocellular carcinoma. Image courtesy of Arief Suriawinata, MD, Department of Pathology, Dartmouth Medical School.
Photomicrograph of a liver demonstrating hepatocel Photomicrograph of a liver demonstrating hepatocellular carcinoma. Image courtesy of Arief Suriawinata, MD, Department of Pathology, Dartmouth Medical School.