What are Pediatric Liver Tumors?

Liver tumors occur when malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the liver. There are two primary types of pediatric liver tumors:

  • Hepatoblastoma — Hepatoblastoma is the most common type of liver cancer found in children, usually affecting children under the age of 3. For hepatoblastoma, how the cancer cells look when under a microscope determines how the cancer is treated.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma — Hepatocellular carcinoma is most commonly found in adolescents and teenagers. This type of cancer typically does not occur in children under the age of 15. Hepatocellular carcinoma is more common in certain parts of Asia than in the U.S., particularly in regions that have high rates of hepatitis infection.

Other less-common types of liver cancers found in children include undifferentiated embryonal sarcoma, infantile choriocarcinoma and vascular liver tumors.

What is the Pediatric Liver Cancer Survival Rate?

The pediatric liver cancer survival rate can vary depending upon the specific type of cancer, the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed and whether the cancer is localized (confined to the liver) or has spread to other parts of the body.

It's important to know that all childhood cancers are considered rare. Hepatoblastoma is an extremely rare type of cancer found in children. Less than one in 1 million children will be diagnosed with hepatoblastoma. For children with localized hepatoblastoma, in which the liver tumor is completely removed in surgery, the survival rate is about 80 percent.

Hepatocellular carcinoma is also a very rare form of cancer found in children. Again, less than one child in one-million will be diagnosed with this type of liver cancer. Children are more likely to develop hepatocellular carcinoma if they are infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or were born with certain diseases or medical conditions, such as Wilson's disease. The overall survival rate for childhood hepatocellular carcinoma is roughly 30 percent, but survival rates can increase if the liver tumor is completely removed, or if the patient undergoes a liver transplant.

What Are Pediatric Kidney Tumors?

Childhood kidney tumors occur when cancerous (malignant) cells develop in the tissues of the kidney. These are the three most common kidney tumors found in children:

Wilms' Tumor — Wilms' Tumor is the most common type of childhood kidney cancer. An estimated 450-500 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with Wilms' Tumor every year. Wilms' Tumor occurs more often in girls and is most commonly found in children under 5.

Renal Cell Cancer — Also known as renal adenocarcinoma or hypernephroma, renal cell cancer (RCC) is typically found in children over the age of 10. This type of cancer can spread easily, most likely from the kidney to the lungs or other organs. 

Congenital Mesoblastic Nephroma — Congenital mesoblastic nephroma is usually found in children under 3 months of age (congenital refers to a medical condition that occurs before birth, or a birth defect).

A few other types of childhood kidney tumors include Ewing sarcoma of the kidney, rhabdoid tumor of the kidney and anaplastic sarcoma of the kidney, among others.

What is the Survival Rate for Children with Kidney Cancers?

The child kidney cancer survival rate depends on a number of factors, such as the stage of the cancer, the type of tumor, the age of the child and whether the tumor can be completely removed via surgery.

According to the American Cancer Society, the four-year survival rate for children diagnosed with Wilms' Tumor in stage I or stage II is over 98 percent. The five-year survival rate for children with renal cell cancer (RCC) in stage I or stage II of diagnosis is 80 percent and over.

What are the Signs and Symptoms Of Kidney Tumors in a Child?

Wilms Tumor accounts for 5 percent of all cancers that occur in children. The average age of diagnosis for children with Wilms' Tumor is 3 or 4. A swelling or hard mass in the abdomen (belly) is typically the first sign of Wilms'. Other symptoms can include fever, nausea, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, constipation or blood in the urine.

For renal cell cancers (RCC) in children, one of the first symptoms is usually blood in the urine. Other symptoms include back pain or pain in the abdomen that does not subside, a mass or lump in the back or belly, fatigue, weight loss or fever.

Pediatric Liver & Kidney Tumor Treatment Options

Treatment for kidney tumors and liver cancer in children typically occurs at a pediatric cancer center. In part because childhood cancers are different from cancers that develop in adults, child and teen cancer patients need individual and specialized treatment in a clinical setting designed for children.

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC) is a leader in the field of pediatric oncology and pediatric hematology. Patients and families choose RMHC for our commitment to providing high-quality care and treatment during each stage of the process for diagnosing and treating cancer. Our dedicated team of physicians, surgeons, nurses, support staff, counselors and Child Life Specialists make every child and their families feel that they are in the best hands — before, during and after treatment. The atmosphere at RMHC is warm and inviting, so that children and adolescents feel safe, secure and supported when undergoing treatment or visiting the pediatric cancer center.