Angiosarcoma of the liver is a rare and aggressive liver tumor type. It often causes no symptoms in the early stages and can be difficult to diagnose. As a result, angiosarcoma of the liver is often diagnosed in later stages, when treatment is difficult and outcomes are poor.
The primary treatment for angiosarcoma of the liver is surgery, but chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy are also used.
In this article, we take a closer look at angiosarcoma of the liver, including symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Angiosarcoma is a rare form of cancer. It can develop on the lining of any blood vessels or lymph vessels in your lymphatic system. Angiosarcoma is most common in your head and neck, but it can develop anywhere in your body, including your liver.
This type of liver cancer can be difficult to treat and can cause pain and fatigue. Angiosarcoma of the liver is an aggressive form of cancer. It’s associated with poor treatment outcomes, although the outlook for individuals with angiosarcoma of the liver can vary.
How common is angiosarcoma of the liver?
Angiosarcoma of the liver is very rare.
There are several known risk factors for angiosarcoma of the liver. Keep in mind that angiosarcoma is rare. Having risk factors for this type of cancer doesn’t mean you’ll develop it. It simply means your risk is higher.
Risk factors include:
Angiosarcoma of the liver causes symptoms that are easy to mistake for symptoms of many other conditions. The symptoms are nonspecific and can be very mild for some people.
In the early stages of angiosarcoma of the liver, some people have no symptoms at all, and their cancer is discovered during tests for a different condition.
Symptoms of angiosarcoma of the liver can include:
- unintentional weight loss
- abdomen pain
- stomach swelling
- a general feeling of being unwell
- liver swelling
It’s a good idea to see a doctor or healthcare professional if you have any symptoms that might be angiosarcoma of the liver, especially if you’ve had them for longer than 1 or 2 weeks.
It’s very likely that your symptoms are from another, less serious, condition, but it’s always best to make sure. Like many cancers, angiosarcoma of the liver is most treatable when it’s diagnosed early.
It can be difficult for doctors to confirm a diagnosis of angiosarcoma of the liver. The symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of other conditions, and angiosarcoma of the liver tumors can look similar to other liver cancer tumors in imaging results.
To confirm a diagnosis, you’ll need tests such as:
- A physical exam: During your physical exam, a doctor will go over your symptoms and check for signs of angiosarcoma, such as jaundice and liver swelling.
- Blood work: Blood work can help rule out other conditions that could be causing similar symptoms.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests such as CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, and ultrasounds can help doctors see your liver and the tumor up close. This allows them to see the size and location of the tumor.
- Biopsy: During a biopsy, a sample of the tumor cells will be removed with a needle. These cells will be tested in a lab. This test will confirm the type of cancer you have.
The primary treatment for angiosarcoma of the liver is surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and the section of your liver the tumor is growing on.
But surgery isn’t always an option. For some people, the tumor might’ve grown too large or spread too far. Other people might not be healthy enough to undergo major surgery. In these situations, a doctor might recommend the following treatments:
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of powerful drugs to kill cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses energy beams to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
- Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE): TACE blocks the flow of your blood to a tumor and delivers chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumor.
But as is the case with many rare cancers, there isn’t a set treatment route for angiosarcoma of the liver. Your treatment plan will be individualized based on your symptoms, progress, and response to treatment.
Ask a doctor if there are any steps in your treatment plan you don’t understand or aren’t comfortable with.
Angiosarcoma of the liver is an aggressive and fast-growing tumor. The outlook for people with it is traditionally poor.
Most data suggests that average survival rates are less than a year. But there is reason to think this might be changing. Recent improvements in treatments could be helping to increase the survival odds for people with angiosarcoma of the liver.
More data is still needed to confirm this improvement. Angiosarcoma of the liver is very rare, so data collection is slow. But treatments for all types of liver cancer have seen improvement in the past several years. These improvements might’ve also had a positive impact on treatments for people with angiosarcoma of the liver.
Angiosarcoma of the liver is a rare form of cancer. Less than 1% of all liver tumors are angiosarcomas.
This type of cancer is very aggressive and is associated with poor survival outcomes. But advances to treatment outcomes in recent years might be improving survival odds.
Treatments for angiokeratoma of the liver include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Your individual treatment plan and outlook can vary.