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Pathology of malignant liver tumors

Arief Suriawinata, MD
Section Editors
Richard M Goldberg, MD
Kenneth K Tanabe, MD
Deputy Editor
Diane MF Savarese, MD


Primary malignant liver tumors resemble and arise from the major constituent cells of the liver, namely hepatocytes (giving rise to hepatocellular carcinoma), biliary epithelial cells (cholangiocarcinoma and biliary cystadenocarcinoma), endothelial cells (angiosarcoma, epithelioid hemangioendothelioma), or combinations of these cells with various mesenchymal cells (eg, hepatoblastoma) [1]. Some (eg, combined hepatocellular-cholangiocellular carcinoma) represent collision of two different tumors or may result from malignant transformation of hepatic progenitor cells with differentiation along two different cell lineages. Secondary liver tumors (ie, metastases from a non-liver primary site) are the most frequent malignant liver tumor, outnumbering primary malignant liver tumors by a large margin (30 to 1 in one series [1]), particularly in patients without underlying liver disease.

Several premalignant lesions that arise in the liver have been extensively studied in order to better understand both hepatocarcinogenesis and cholangiocarcinogenesis [2,3].

Premalignant hepatocellular lesions include:

Dysplastic foci, characterized by cytological small cell change

Dysplastic nodules, encompassing low-grade dysplastic nodules and high-grade dysplastic nodules

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 21, 2017.
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