Liver Cancer Prognosis

Liver cancer survival rates and prognosis involves staging which is the process of finding out how widespread a disease. Doctors perform it by examining sample tissues from the patient under a microscope. Staging is also essential for liver cancer because it may have different prognoses at various stages and help doctors determine the best treatment for the patient.

Furthermore, it helps determine one’s health condition if physicians will treat the cancer or not. Physicians use the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) staging system in staging liver cancer. Lastly, it depends on the results doctors obtained from surgery.

The AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer), TNM staging system, involves three factors including:

  • Tumor: Describes the size of the primary tumor and whether it has metastasized outside the prostate
  • Node: This, on the other hand,  the spread of cancer to the nearby lymph nodes; which are immune system cells that cancer affects first.
  • Metastasis: Describes whether the cancer has metastasized to other body organs

Liver Cancer Staging

The T, N, and M of a person are combined in a process called stage grouping to determine the stage of the cancer which is expressed in Roman numerals. Some stages are divided into sub-stages which are indicated by letters and numbers. These stages include:

  • Localized or Stage I: At this stage, the cancer has invaded the cervix but has not grown outside the uterus. Furthermore, the cancer has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes and distant sites.
  • Stage II: Next, stage II indicates that the cancer has grown beyond the cervix and uterus but has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes or distant sites
  • Stage III: In this stage, the cancer has spread to the lower part of the vagina and the walls of the pelvis and may lead to the blockage of the ureters. However, cancer has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes and distant sites.
  • Distant Spread or Stage IV: Lastly,  Stage IV is the most advanced stage of cervical cancer. Cancer has spread to the nearby organs, lymph nodes, remote locations and other body parts.

Other available staging systems are:

  • The Okuda system
  • The Cancer of the Liver Italian Program (CLIP)
  • The Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) system

The Cirrhosis Staging System

The Cirrhosis Staging System is a measure of liver function especially in people with cirrhosis. It majors on five factors in which the first 3 are blood tests results.

The factors of the Cirrhosis Staging System are:

  • Blood levels of bilirubin
  • Blood levels of albumin
  • The prothrombin time
  • In case the fluid is in the abdomen
  • Whether the liver infection is affecting the brain

Liver cancer can be classified into different groups to determine a patient’s prognosis, and these are:

  • The extent of resection: This indicates whether the doctor was able to remove all the tumors is named from R0 to R2. It includes the potentially resectable or transplantable cancers and unresectable cancers. Additionally, resectable cancers can be removed completely by surgery while unresectable cancers cannot be completely removed by surgery.
  • Advanced Cancers
  • Inoperable with only local disease

Liver Cancer Survival Rates

Doctors use survival rates as a way of discussing one’s outlook (prognosis). A five-year survival rate is the percentage of patients who lived for at least five years after diagnosis of cancer. The cervical cancer survival rates depend on the previous outcomes of large numbers of people who at one point happened to have cancer. (1)

However, this can change depending on one’s general health, the grade of the cancer, how well one responds to treatment and the treatment doctors administered. However, these rates are estimates and only apply to first cases of cancer.

Relative Survival Rates

Relative survival rates are the more accurate way to estimate the effect of cancer on survival.

The grouping of liver cancer into survival stages include: (2)

  • Localized stage liver cancer: The 5-year relative survival rate is about 31%
  • Regional stage liver cancer: The 5-year relative survival rate is about 11%
  • Distant stage liver cancer: The 5-year relative survival rate is about 3%

Cancer survival rates are often higher for people who have surgery done to them to remove their cancer despite the stage of the cancer.


American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2017, from

Cancer.Net. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2017, from