Liver angiosarcoma is a rare type of cancer of mesenchymal origin, ranking as the third most common primary liver malignancies. It affects mainly men in their 6th or 7th decade of life, with high mortality in the first years. So far, its recognition remains a great diagnostic challenge.
Liver angiosarcoma has an incidence rate of
less than 0.1% in angiosarcoma patients. The survival period is 6 months at
best. Although rare, the tumor is so aggressive that can hardly be treated by the
The exact cause of liver cancer is not known in most cases. Several known etiologies include:
- Genetic variation
Liver cancer occurs when DNA mutations happen
in the liver cells.
- Chronic infection and hepatitis viruses
Most cases of liver cancer are due to a condition called cirrhosis.
- Exposure to poisonous substances
Some important risk factors for this disease include the exposure to vinyl chloride, radiocontrast material, the use of androgenic steroid and arsenic, and other chemicals.
Symptoms in the early stage may include:
- Painless breast lump
- Right upper abdominal pain
Other reported symptoms include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Acute hepatic failure
- Swelling in abdomen
- Enlarged liver
- Weakness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Back pain
- White and chalky stool
Diagnosis is poor with hepatic angiosarcomas
being resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, there are
several ways available for the diagnosis:
- A physical examination
Your doctor will perform a physical examination.
Tell your doctor about your medical history.
- Imaging tests
CT or MRI scans can provide detailed images of the liver and other organs to identify and visualize the presence of alpha-fetoprotein problems in the liver and nearby tissues.
Done under anesthesia, a liver biopsy is a
painless procedure that takes a small piece of your liver tissue and tests it
in a laboratory.
Which angiosarcoma treatment is best for you
depends on various factors: your cancer’s location, its size and whether it has
spread to other areas of your body.
The treatment may include one or more of the
Hepatectomy is a surgery that is performed to remove a portion or all of
Ablation uses heat to destroy cancer cells, generally done with people who aren’t suitable for surgery or a transplant of the liver.
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. Medications are injected into venous blood vessels.
- Radiation therapy
Radiations can be delivered by external beam sources or with internal radiation sources. In internal radiation, tiny radioactive particles are injected into the body.
- Targeted therapy
Sorafenib has been approved as a targeted therapy drug for people with liver cancer.
It involves replacing the cancerous liver with
a healthy liver from another person. Candidates eligible for the liver
transplant cannot have a tumor bigger than 5 cm or several tumors larger than 3
Embolization is the blocking the blood supply to the cancer by using a catheter to inject particles inside the body. If this technique uses chemotherapy, it is called chemoembolization.
Keywords: liver angiosarcoma, liver cancer.