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Adult Primary Liver Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version

Cellular Classification of Adult Primary Liver Cancer

Malignant primary tumors of the liver consist of two major cell types: hepatocellular, which accounts for 90% of cases,[1] and cholangiocarcinoma.

Histologic classification is as follows:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cell carcinoma).
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (fibrolamellar variant). [Note: The fibrolamellar variant is important because an increased proportion of the patients may be cured if the tumor can be resected. This variant is found more frequently in young women. It also generally exhibits a slower clinical course than the more common hepatocellular carcinoma.][2]
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (intrahepatic bile duct carcinoma).
  • Mixed hepatocellular cholangiocarcinoma.
  • Undifferentiated.

Hepatoblastoma rarely occurs in adults.


  1. Llovet JM, Burroughs A, Bruix J: Hepatocellular carcinoma. Lancet 362 (9399): 1907-17, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Mavros MN, Mayo SC, Hyder O, et al.: A systematic review: treatment and prognosis of patients with fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma. J Am Coll Surg 215 (6): 820-30, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: July 11, 2014