Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Do colon lesions always indicate cancer?"
Is it necessarily cancer if a CT scan finds a 'lesion' on my liver? I am trying not to panic, but my doctor found a darkened area on my liver that he said he was highly certain was a lesion. If it is a type of cancer, what are my treatment options?
The simplest answer to this question is no. First, the term lesion is a generic term and does not signify either malignant or benign and is frequently used to avoid the word tumor or mass. By far the most common lesions identified on routine abdominal imaging are benign or non-cancerous.
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Your doctor should begin with a thorough history and physical to help him/her assess the likelihood that the spot on your liver is benign or malignant. The most important distinction is whether you have chronic liver disease (cirrhosis) or not. Non-cancerous lesions are present in up to one out of five healthy people. The most common liver lesions in people without chronic liver disease are benign such as hemangiomas and hepatic adenomas. The appearance of these types of lesion are usually characteristic on imaging studies and do not require follow up. In patients with chronic liver disease, a cancerous cause should first be excluded. Blood tests and further imaging such as oral or intravenous contrast enhanced CT or MRI can help your doctor determine the nature of the lesion. If a lesion is in fact cancer, there are many possibilities and frequently the tumors do not originate in the liver itself, but spread from other cancers. The treatment for any lesion in the liver depends on the underlying cause, and if your doctor is truly concerned that it may be cancer, he/she will most likely want to take a biopsy, or piece of tissue to better characterize it and determine the origin if the tumor. If the lesion benign simply stopping medications such as oral contraceptive pills or steroids may be enough to take care of it. You should talk with your primary care physician or a gastroenterologist to further discuss the risks and benefits of the different options.
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