An ultra sound for gall stones revealed a tumor on my liver. Subsequent MRI could not definitely determine the tumor, so I had robotic assisted surgery on 1/25/2012 to removed my gall bladder and 2 segments of my liver. The 6 cm tumor was removed with clean margins and the operation went without a hitch. My surgeon, who is very experienced, was certain that the tumor was benign. Much to our shock 2 weeks later, the pathology came back as a hepatocellular carcinoma, indications for neuroendocrine tumor (NET) and clear cell variant (extremely rare). This diagnosis suggested that the liver was not the primary cancer site and that the tumor had metastaticized from elsewhere in my body (i.e. pancreas, colon, ovaries, etc.).
Many things did not add up. Clinically I am perfectly healthy with normal blood work and no symptoms whatsoever. How could a cancer have spread to my liver and have grown to 6 cm without any signs or symptoms? My surgeon strongly recommended a 2nd opinion. 5 weeks later, the 2nd opinion came back from MD Anderson that the original pathology was misdiagnosed. The tumor was completely benign. It's called an angiomyolipoma and, although rare, it is commonly misdiagnosed. This type of tumor is also more commonly found on the kidneys.
For five weeks I had myself almost convinced that I had metastatic pancreatic cancer. Words cannot express how relieved I was to get the good news. The original pathology was done at an extremely reputable university pathology lab, but this just goes to show that diagnostic mistakes do happen even at excellent places. I am grateful to my surgeon for insisting on a 2nd opinion and to MD Anderson for their expertise.