Stories about: Dr. Allison O’Neill

What you need to know about liver tumors in children

Young boy in hospital for liver tumor treatment
Ziad was treated for hepatocellular carcinoma by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “It is exceedingly rare for hepatocellular carcinoma to occur in a child of Ziad’s age,” says Dr. Allison O’Neill.

Pediatric liver tumors are rare, comprising only 1 percent of all childhood cancers. There are two main types of liver tumors in children:

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Innovative treatment for a large liver tumor saves Ziad

Young boy in hospital for liver tumor treatment
Ziad right before his second TACE procedure

Ziad Selbak was a pint-sized patient with a huge medical challenge. In March 2017, the two-year-old was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), an aggressive form of liver cancer rare in young children.

But specialists at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center were ready to take on the challenge. They collaborated on an innovative application of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) — an established treatment for adults — to deliver chemotherapy directly to Ziad’s large tumor and stabilize his condition with the ultimate goal of liver transplant.

It all started in February 2017, when Ziad took a tumble on a toy at his family’s home in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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