How long can you live with liver cancer?

The overall survival rate of liver cancer patients is low and a five-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer is only 15%, but it can vary depending on how far the cancer has spread.
The overall survival rate of liver cancer patients is low and a five-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer is only 15%, but it can vary depending on how far the cancer has spread.

Survival of cancer patients depends on the stage of cancer. The overall survival rate of liver cancer patients is low, due to other underlying medical conditions, such as cirrhosis

Generally, a five-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer is only 15%. However, the five-year survival rate can vary depending on the extent of cancer spread. 

The five-year survival rate of cancer confined to the liver (localized liver cancer) is 28%, whereas, for cancer spread to nearby organs (regional liver cancer) and cancer spread to distant organs or tissues (distant liver cancer) is 7% and 2%, respectively.

What is liver cancer?

Liver cancer, also known as hepatic cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the liver. The different types of liver cancer are:

  • Primary liver cancer: This cancer starts in the liver. Primary liver cancer is of many different types:
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (the common form of liver cancer)
  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)
  • Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma (cancer that begins in the cell lining of the blood vessels in the liver)
  • Hepatoblastoma (cancer occurring in infants)
  • Secondary liver cancer (metastatic liver cancer): Cancer that originates in the liver and spreads to other parts.
  • Benign liver tumors: Noncancerous tumors may grow large enough to cause problems, but they do not grow into nearby tissues.

What causes liver cancer?

Chronic liver disease may be the main cause of liver cancer. The scarring of the liver increases the risk of liver cancer. 

Other contributory factors include:

What are the signs and symptoms of liver cancer?

Symptoms are hardly seen in the initial stages. As the tumor size increases, it may cause pain in the right side of the abdomen. Some patients may have worsening symptoms of chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, which often precedes the development of cancer of the liver

Some of the common signs and symptoms of liver cancer include:

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What are the treatment options for liver cancer?

The treatment options depend on the stage and type of liver cancer. The most common treatment options include:

  • Surgery: This option may be useful in removing part of the liver affected by cancer. Complications of surgery include bleeding, infection, or pneumonia.
  • Liver transplant: This involves replacing the cancerous cells with healthy liver cells from a donor. Rejection of the liver transplant is the major complication of this method.
  • Ablation therapy: This procedure involves using heat or laser to destroy the cancerous cells.
  • Embolization: This technique uses a catheter to inject particles or beads into the blood vessels supplying the cancer cells to block it. This kills the cancerous cells.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation of high frequency destroys the cancerous cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancerous cells.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/12/2020