Liver masses on CT has many different diagnostic possibilities from benign to serious. The radiologist who reads your CT scan will provide possibilities based on the appearance, your history and any prior scans. The radiologist may suggest additional testing if the diagnosis is not clear.
What does a mass in the liver mean?
Mass in the liver means that there is an abnormal area in the liver which occupies space and pushes on normal tissue. A liver mass alone tells us nothing about the diagnosis or how it looks on imaging.
Liver masses differential diagnosis
The most concerning cause would be cancer which has spread to the liver. If you have a known cancer, then this becomes the most likely cause.
Common cancers which spread to the liver in practice include gastrointestinal tumors, especially colon. Breast and lung cancer are some other cancers which tend to spread to the liver in advanced cases.
Malignant and benign tumors of the liver can be multiple. Most commonly, liver cancer is seen in the setting of prior liver disease like cirrhosis or hepatitis.
Benign tumors of the liver such as hemangiomas and focal nodular hyperplasia can also be seen throughout the liver. The appearance on CT in many cases is characteristic. These are often asymptomatic and found incidentally on imaging performed for other reasons.
Cysts can be multiple but are usually easily diagnosed and left alone.
Abscesses or pockets of pus can also be multiple but are suspected based on your clinical presentation.
Multiple liver masses on a CT scan
Multiple masses can range from benign abnormalities like hemangiomas to spread of cancer from elsewhere in the body. The appearance on CT, prior scans and clinical history will be helpful for diagnosis.
Should I be worried about liver masses?
It depends on the diagnosis as detailed above. The radiologist will suggest a diagnosis or some possibilities.
Does mass on liver mean cancer?
No, not all liver masses are cancer. Some are benign and can be left alone without treatment. The radiologist will indicate in the report if liver cancer is a concern.
Symptoms of liver masses
This depends on the type of mass. Some benign and cancerous masses may not have symptoms. Other masses may have abdominal pain in the region of the liver, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, itching and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
Liver masses treatment
Treatment of liver masses depends on the underlying diagnosis. Some benign masses like cysts and hemangiomas will be left alone and not treated. Cancer spread to the liver will involve chemotherapy. Primary liver tumors may require surgery. A liver abscess may need to be drained.
Further testing of liver mass
Additional imaging tests such as MRI or biopsy may be ordered by your doctor to further evaluate the mass. PET scan may be ordered when there is suspicion for cancer.
Liver masses on CT: summary
Liver masses on CT can represent a variety of diagnosis. CT can often help us identify the cause. Further testing in cases where the cause of the masses is unclear may include additional imaging like MRI or PET scan. Biopsy may be needed for definitive diagnosis in some cases.