Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Causes and risk factors

What causes hepatoblastoma?

Although the exact cause of liver cancer is unknown, there are a number of genetic conditions that are associated with an increased risk for developing hepatoblastoma, including Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, hemihypertrophy and familial adenomatous polyposis. Other genetic conditions associated with liver cancer include several inborn errors of metabolism such as tyrosinemia, glycogen storage disease type I, galactosemia and alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency.

Children who are exposed to hepatitis B infection at an early age, or those who have biliary atresia, also are at increased risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma. Some hepatoblastomas have genetic alterations in tumor suppressor genes, which would explain the uncontrolled cell growth.