Liver Angiosarcoma: Causes and Diagnosis


Liver angiosarcoma is a rare type of cancer of mesenchymal origin, ranking as the third most common primary liver malignancies. It affects mainly men in their 6th or 7th decade of life, with high mortality in the first years. So far, its recognition remains a great diagnostic challenge.

Liver angiosarcoma has an incidence rate of less than 0.1% in angiosarcoma patients. The survival period is 6 months at best. Although rare, the tumor is so aggressive that can hardly be treated by the traditional therapy.


The exact cause of liver cancer is not known in most cases. Several known etiologies include:

  • Genetic variation

Liver cancer occurs when DNA mutations happen in the liver cells.

  • Chronic infection and hepatitis viruses

Most cases of liver cancer are due to a condition called cirrhosis.

  • Exposure to poisonous substances

Some important risk factors for this disease include the exposure to vinyl chloride, radiocontrast material, the use of androgenic steroid and arsenic, and other chemicals.


Symptoms in the early stage may include:

  • Painless breast lump
  • Fatigue
  • Right upper abdominal pain

Other reported symptoms include:

  • Jaundice
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Acute hepatic failure
  • Swelling in abdomen
  • Enlarged liver
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Itching
  • White and chalky stool
  • Anorexia
  • Hemoperitoneum


Diagnosis is poor with hepatic angiosarcomas being resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, there are several ways available for the diagnosis:

  • A physical examination

Your doctor will perform a physical examination. Tell your doctor about your medical history.

  • Imaging tests

CT or MRI scans can provide detailed images of the liver and other organs to identify and visualize the presence of alpha-fetoprotein problems in the liver and nearby tissues.

Done under anesthesia, a liver biopsy is a painless procedure that takes a small piece of your liver tissue and tests it in a laboratory.


Which angiosarcoma treatment is best for you depends on various factors: your cancer’s location, its size and whether it has spread to other areas of your body.

The treatment may include one or more of the following:

  • Hepatectomy

Hepatectomy is a surgery that is performed to remove a portion or all of the liver.

  • Ablation

Ablation uses heat to destroy cancer cells, generally done with people who aren’t suitable for surgery or a transplant of the liver.

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. Medications are injected into venous blood vessels.

  • Radiation therapy

Radiations can be delivered by external beam sources or with internal radiation sources. In internal radiation, tiny radioactive particles are injected into the body.

  • Targeted therapy

Sorafenib has been approved as a targeted therapy drug for people with liver cancer.

It involves replacing the cancerous liver with a healthy liver from another person. Candidates eligible for the liver transplant cannot have a tumor bigger than 5 cm or several tumors larger than 3 cm.

  • Embolization

Embolization is the blocking the blood supply to the cancer by using a catheter to inject particles inside the body. If this technique uses chemotherapy, it is called chemoembolization.

Keywords: liver angiosarcoma, liver cancer.

Related Posts:

Liver Biopsy: Uses, Risk, Preparation

Liver Transplant: Uses, Risk, Preparation

What is Liver Cancer and What Causes it?

How to Define the Final Stages of Liver Cirrhosis?

Hepatic Failure (Liver Failure): Symptoms, Treatment

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.