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West J Med. 1991 Oct;155(4):416-8.

Hepatocellular carcinoma coexisting with hepatic adenoma. Incidental discovery after long-term oral contraceptive use.

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Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.



In March 1989, ultrasonography revealed a hepatic mass in a 40 year old nulliparous woman who was then referred to the University of Southern California--Los Angeles (UCLA) Liver Unit. She exhibited no symptoms of a liver condition. From 19-28 years old, she took the combined oral contraceptive (OC) Ovulen 21 for irregular menses. After a brief period of taking Ortho Novum 1/80, she took Demulen 1/35-24 between ages 28-34. Her physician diagnoses endometriosis at 34. He stopped OC therapy and prescribed the progestin Norlutate. She had no history of hepatitis, toxin exposure, and previous liver disease. Further no one in her family had had liver disease or neoplasms. Computer tomography identified a 6.5 cm x 3.5 cm mass in the right lobe of the liver which matched a cold defect on a liver scan using technetium Tc 99m sulfur colloid. The mass selectively took up gallium. Arteriography revealed the mass to be a vascular tumor, but it did not exhibit a typical vascular pattern of an adenoma or the neovascularity of hepatocellular carcinoma. Physicians at UCLA used peritoneoscopy to take percutaneous needle biopsies of the right lobe which confirmed a hepatic adenoma. they then removed the right lobe of the liver. The remaining part of the liver was normal. Histologic examinations of the removed section showed features of a well differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma. Further tumor cells had invaded normal hepatic parenchyma. The physicians believed that hepatic adenoma was in the process of transforming into hepatocellular carcinoma in this patient. They thought that long term OC use, and possibly long term progestin use, may have contributed to the formation of the liver neoplasms. They emphasized the need for a pilot study to develop guidelines on surveillance ultrasonography of women taking OCs over a long period.

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