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General Information About Childhood Liver Cancer

Fortunately, cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence of childhood cancer has been slowly increasing since 1975[1]. Children and adolescents with cancer should be referred to medical centers that have a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists with experience treating the cancers that occur during childhood and adolescence. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills of the following health care professionals and others to ensure that children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will achieve optimal survival and quality of life:

Primary care physicians.

Pediatric surgeons.

Radiation oncologists.

Pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists.

Rehabilitation specialists.

Pediatric nurse specialists.

Social workers.

Child life professionals.

Psychologists.

(Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for specific information about supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer.)

Guidelines for pediatric cancer centers and their role in the treatment of children and adolescents with cancer have been outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics[2]. At these pediatric cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate in these trials is offered to most patients/families. Clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapies for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI website.

Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer. Between 1975 and 2010, childhood cancer mortality decreased by more than 50%[1]. Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close monitoring because late effects of therapy may persist or develop months or years after treatment. (Refer to Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.)

Liver cancer is a rare malignancy in children and adolescents and is divided into the following two major histologic subgroups:

Hepatoblastoma.

Hepatocellular carcinoma.

Other, less common, histologies include the following:

Undifferentiated embryonal sarcoma of the liver.

Infantile choriocarcinoma of the liver.

Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma.

References

1. Smith MA, Altekruse SF, Adamson PC, et al.: Declining childhood and adolescent cancer mortality. Cancer 120 (16): 2497-506, 2014.[PUBMED Abstract]

2. Corrigan JJ, Feig SA; American Academy of Pediatrics: Guidelines for pediatric cancer centers. Pediatrics 113 (6): 1833-5, 2004.[PUBMED Abstract]

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