Prognosis of Liver Cancer

By  , Expert Content
Jan 19, 2013

A person diagnosed with liver cancer will definitely have apprehensions like what will be the prognosis, how long will I live, what is the best mode of treatment. Understanding the prognosis of liver cancer and what the future holds helps the patient and the family to handle the disease and living with it better.


[Read: Liver Cancer Life Expectancy]


Prognosis of any cancer is dependent on many factors, some of the important ones are:

  • the type of cancer.
  • site or location of the cancer.
  • stage of the disease (that is the size of the tumor, extent of involvement of the organ, spread to other parts of the body).
  • grade of tumor (how abnormal or malignant the cancer cells are and how quickly the cells grow and spread).
  • patient factors such as age, general health, and response to treatment.

While informing a patient about the prognosis the doctor considers all the factors that affect the disease, treatment and chances of recovery. Prognosis is generally predicted based on the information provided by studies on the particular cancer.

Like any other cancer prognosis of patients with liver cancer depends on:

  • the type of  cancer
  • stage of the cancer
  • extent of damage of liver function (or how well the liver is functioning)
  • patient's factors such as general health, and if there is cirrhosis of the liver
  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels.


[Read: Who is at Risk for Liver Cancer?]


Prognosis of liver cancer despite of years of research and advances in treatment is guarded. The five-year liver cancer survival rate is approximately 7--9 percent. Based on studies the five-year relative survival rates for liver cancer are;

  • White men (7.4 per cent)
  • White women (10.6 per cent )
  • Black men (5.5 per cent )
  • Black women (4.6 per cent)

Prognosis of localised liver cancer is better as compared to cancer which has spread to other organs and lymph nodes. Life expectancy of liver cancer based on stage is as follows;

  • Localised cancer  (19.0 per cent)
  • Distant or cancer that has spread extensively (3.4 per cent)

Prognosis of liver cancer is poor because most cases remain undetected for a longtime and most liver cancers do not respond well to treatment. If the liver cancer can be removed surgically, prognosis is improved survival rate is about 75 per cent  after 1 year of surgery, 50 per cent after 3 years of surgery and about 30 per cent after 5 years of surgery. Hence if the cancer can be removed complete surgical removal is done. Early detection can improve the prognosis of liver cancer. So if you have factors which increase your risk of liver cancer consult your doctor regularly to detect the cancer at an early stage.


Read more articles on Liver Cancer.

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