Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma Can Spread to the Brain, Researchers Warn

According to a story from brightsurf.com, a recent research finding suggests that fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer that can occur in children, is capable of metastasis (spreading) to the brain. Scientists are now recommending that people who have this type of cancer should regularly be monitored for tumors in the brain. Fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma is a solid tumor cancer, which rarely spread to the brain, as a result, previous monitoring procedures for patients did not include brain scans.
Fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma is the only form of liver cancer that is regularly found in teens and young adults and is distinctive because of fibrous layers that are spaced between the cells of the tumor. This is a form of cancer that is often at an advanced stage upon diagnosis because it presents very few symptoms in its early stages. The tumor is often already large upon discovery. Many conventional biomarkers for liver disease are not present with fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma, and indicators for the standard type of hepatocellular carcinoma also do not appear. Symptoms can include unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, and nausea. More severe effects soon appear in advanced cases. Surgical removal is often the preferred treatment, though the cancer is capable of recurrence. To learn more about the cancer type, click here.

Like many other types of cancer, survival rates and ability to treat fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma is largely dependent on whether the cancer has begun to metastasize. This makes knowing where the cancer can possibly spread an essential piece of information for effective treatment. Detecting tumors in the brain early is also essential for ensuring that they can be removed safely and successfully. The ability of fibrolamellar cancers to spread to the brain was only discovered after several patients complained of headaches and changes to mental function.

More research will have to be done in order to understand how fibrolamellar carcinoma is able to spread to the brain, but knowing of this ability could present providers with strategies to improve treatment. The team is now working on a treatment approach that addresses the genetic factors that are associated with the cancer.

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