- Focal nodule hyperplasia is a common type of benign tumour.
- It is not a type of cancer and very rarely causes any problems.
- It is more common in women and in people with some other medical conditions.
- It is very rare to need any treatment for focal nodule hyperplasia.
- The safest option is usually to just leave it alone.
The exact cause of focal nodule hyperplasia is not fully understood. It is thought that a problem with the shape of an artery in your liver causes a group of nearby liver cells to get bigger than it should. This group of cells forms the tumour. In some cases, the artery problem is caused by another medical condition.
In nearly all cases the size of the tumour will stay the same over time. They are usually quite small. You will often only know you have one when it is found by accident during a scan for something else.
Most people will not have any symptoms of focal nodule hyperplasia. If your focal nodule hyperplasia is linked to Budd-Chiari syndrome then you are more likely to have the symptoms of Budd-Chiari. You can find out more about these here.
In rare cases, if the focal nodule hyperplasia is very large, you might have symptoms. The most common are:
- Pain in your tummy.
- Feeling very full, as if you have eaten a big meal when you have not.
Focal nodule hyperplasia is almost always harmless. But it can look like other conditions, including a different type of benign tumour called hepatocellular adenoma. This needs more monitoring. So it is important to get a clear diagnosis and rule out other conditions.
You will probably have an MRI scan. This uses strong magnets to build up a picture of the soft parts of your body. It is very good at looking for problems in your liver. It does not hurt and should take about half an hour. You can find out more about having an MRI scan here.
You might also have a special type of ultrasound scan called a contrast enhanced ultrasound or CEUS. This is like a normal ultrasound scan but you will also have a small injection. The injection will contain lots of very tiny bubbles. You will be asked to lie still for about 5 minutes while the bubbles move around your body. You will then have the ultrasound scan. You can find out more about having an ultrasound scan here.
You will not need any treatment if your doctors are sure that your tumour is focal nodule hyperplasia. And it is not causing you any problems.
If the doctor is not certain about the diagnosis you might be asked to come back for a scan in 3 to 6 months.
If you are having symptoms, you should be referred to a specialist who will be able to discuss your options. These might include surgery to remove the focal nodule hyperplasia.
For most people, focal nodule hyperplasia should not affect your life.
The most important thing is to make sure that the diagnosis is clear.
Ask your doctor:
- How confident are you that this is a focal nodule hyperplasia?
- Should I have any more tests to be sure?
- Is there anything I should look out for or tell a doctor about?
There is no evidence that you should eat a special diet or avoid any particular food if you have focal nodule hyperplasia. Eating a healthy, balanced diet , and not drinking too much alcohol will help to keep your liver healthy. There are no supplements or complementary or alternative medicines that have been shown to help with focal nodule hyperplasia.
Finding out that you have a tumour in your liver can be very worrying, even if you are told it is benign and harmless. The British Liver Trust is here for anyone living with a liver condition. You can find out more about how we can support you here.
Publication date: 10/08/2023
Review date 10/08/2026