Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

What is hepatoblastoma?

Hepatoblastoma is a very rare cancerous tumor that originates in the liver. The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. The primary functions of the liver include filtering and storing blood. The liver consists of right and left lobes. Most hepatoblastoma tumors originate in the right lobe.

This disease primarily affects children from infancy to about 5 years of age. Most cases appear during the first 18 months of life. Hepatoblastoma cancer cells can spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. The most common sites of metastasis are the lungs, into the abdomen and abdominal structures, and rarely to bone, the central nervous system and the bone marrow.

Anatomy of the liver 

The liver is located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity, beneath the diaphragm and on top of the stomach, right kidney and intestines. Shaped like a cone, the liver is a dark reddish-brown organ that weighs about three pounds.

The liver consists of two main lobes, both of which are made up of thousands of lobules. These lobules are connected to small ducts that connect with larger ducts to ultimately form the hepatic duct. The hepatic duct transports the bile produced by the liver cells to the gallbladder and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The liver regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called “bile,” which helps carry away waste products from the liver.