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Medicine (Baltimore). 1979 Jan;58(1):48-64.

The clinical features of hepatic angiosarcoma: a report of four cases and a review of the English literature.


Four cases of hepatic angiosarcoma are reported with a review of 99 other cases in the English literature. Angiosarcoma of the liver is associated with chronic exposure to thorotrast, vinyl chloride, arsenicals, radium and possibly copper and with chronic idiopathic hemochromatosis. Although 40% of patients have hepatic fibrosis or cirrhosis at autopsy, the nature of the association between chronic liver disease and hepatic angiosarcoma is unknown. The clinical presentation of hepatic angiosarcoma is nonspecific with abdominal pain, weakness and weight loss common complaints and with hepatomegaly, ascites and jaundice common findings. Liver function tests are usually abnormal but there is no one liver function test or set of tests specific for the tumor. The occurrence of thrombocytopenia and disseminated intravascular coagulation is characteristic of hepatic angiosarcoma and may be related to local consumption of clotting factors and formed blood elements in the tumor. Catastrophic intraabdominal bleeding is also characteristic and occurs in one-fourth of all cases. This complication is likely related to the high incidence of clotting abnormalities and the vascular nature of the neoplasm. Selective hepatic arteriogram and open liver biopsy are the foundations of diagnostic evaluation. Percutaneous liver biopsy should be avoided. Failure to appreciate the possibility of hepatic angiosarcoma in the proper clinical setting, leading to blind percutaneous biopsy, may result in failure to make the diagnosis at the cost of significant morbidity and mortality. Survival of patients with hepatic angiosarcoma is brief; only 3% live longer than 2 years. Treatment of the tumor to date is empirical. There are probably a few patients who might benefit from radical surgery with curative intent. For all others chemotherapy is indicated. Adriamycin is active against hepatic angiosarcoma, but optimal dose and mode of administration require further investigation. Further study is also required to delineate the cause of hepatic angiosarcoma in the 60% of cases without definite epidemiologic association.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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