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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, which are hepatocellular (90% of cases) and cholangiocarcinoma.[1]

Histologic classification is as follows:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; liver cell carcinoma).
  • Fibrolamellar variant of HCC.

    It is important to distinguish between the fibrolamellar variant of HCC and HCC itself because an increased proportion of patients with the fibrolamellar variant 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 HCC.[2]

  • Cholangiocarcinoma (intrahepatic bile duct carcinoma).
  • Mixed hepatocellular cholangiocarcinoma.
  • Undifferentiated.
  • Hepatoblastoma. This occurs more often in children than in adults. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Childhood Liver Cancer Treatment for more information.)


  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: March 27, 2015