doctor talking to patient

Liver Cysts & Tumors (benign)

Liver Surgeons At DHI Offer Minimally Invasive Treatments for Benign Liver Masses

This page is primarily about treatment for benign liver tumors and cysts. For information about malignant liver tumors, please see the page for liver cancer.

Just like other organs, the liver can develop benign tumors or cysts. These growths rarely affect liver function. However, when these non-cancerous growths cause bothersome symptoms or have the potential of turning into cancer, they may require surgery.

Digestive Health Institute surgeons Dr. Iswanto Sucandy and Dr. Alexander Rosemurgy are highly specialized in liver surgery. They possess the skills and technologies to offer minimally invasive liver surgery, which gives patients far easier and faster recoveries. Some common benign liver masses include hepatocellular adenoma and liver cysts.

Hepatocellular Adenoma

Hepatocellular adenoma (HCA) is a benign liver mass. The condition is also known as hepatic adenoma. It is not to be confused with hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a primary liver cancer. However, if it becomes large enough and is then left untreated, HCA can turn into hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Causes, Symptoms & Discovery of HCA

Hepatocellular adenoma is believed to be caused by synthetic estrogens, especially those found in anabolic steroids or birth control pills containing mestranol. Therefore, hepatic adenoma is a condition that primarily affects women who take oral contraceptives.

The most common symptom of HCA is pain or discomfort on the right side of the chest or pain in the right shoulder. However, only 25 to 50 percent of people with the condition experience this. About 3 of 10 people will have bleeding from the adenoma. Hepatocellular adenomas are often discovered when they are felt by patients or by their doctors during an exam or when they appear on imaging tests for another condition.

Patients can have one more many adenomas in their livers. They are usually discovered when they are 8 to 15 cm in size, although they can range from 1 to 30 cm.

Treatment for HCA

Once the adenoma is 4 to 5 cm, the likelihood it will transform into cancer increases. Therefore, surgery to remove the mass – done minimally invasively if possible – is the recommended treatment for adenomas that are about 4 to 5 cm in size or larger. Surgery is also recommended for any liver masses that are producing symptoms. Sometimes symptoms can worsen during pregnancy. If you are a woman with HCA and wish to have a child, you may want to consider having the adenoma surgically removed before trying to get pregnant.

Liver Cysts

Liver cysts are common, and about 1 in 20 people have at least one. However, of every 100 people with liver cysts, only five to ten will have any symptoms.

When liver cysts produce symptoms, patients may feel:

  • Fullness in the upper and right side of the abdomen
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Feeling full before eating as much as usual

Unlike a solid tumor, a cyst is a sac filled with liquid. Most liver cysts are filled with clear fluid. Sometimes bleeding into the cyst can occur. If this happens, patients will likely feel a sudden pain in the upper right part of the abdomen and chest as well as shoulder discomfort. The cyst usually contains the bleeding, and as bleeding stops, this pain will go away over several days.

Liver Cyst Treatment

If you have a liver cyst causing pain, discomfort or fullness, it can be treated with a minimally invasive surgery that involves just a small incision in your belly button. Most patients are discharged from the hospital on the same day of their surgery. During the cyst removal procedure, your surgeon will remove a large piece of the cyst wall. This will destroy the cyst sac. Because it will no longer be able to fill up with fluid, the cyst will be permanently gone.

If you have a benign liver mass and need to explore surgical treatment options, call DHI for an appointment with a liver surgeon at (813) 615-7557.



At DHI, we know that after being diagnosed with cancer, patients want and often need to begin treatment quickly. So we make it a priority to offer appointments for cancer surgery consultations within 5 business days, and often earlier. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion.

Patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, or have just found out they have cancer recurrence, qualify for this priority access. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion. We want to help you start your treatment as soon as possible.

If you have been diagnosed with a cancer of the digestive system, don’t wait.
Call the Digestive Health Institute at (813) 615-7440.

Learn more about our Surgical Cancer Care program.

  • Image for Dr. Sharona Ross of the Digestive Health Institute is Nationally Recognized for Helping Women Succeed as Surgeons Dr. Sharona Ross of the Digestive Health Institute is Nationally Recognized for Helping Women Succeed as Surgeons

    On October 22, the Digestive Health Institute’s Dr. Sharona Ross was presented with the Nina Starr Braunwald Award at the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) Annual Conference and American College of ...

  • Image for 2018 SAGES & CAGS 16th World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery News 2018 SAGES & CAGS 16th World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery News

    The 2018 SAGES & CAGS 16 th World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery Scientific Session & Postgraduate Courses conference was held on April 11 th , 2018 to April 14 th , 2018 in the city of Seattle, ...