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Survival

The likely outcome when you have cancer depends on how advanced it is when it is diagnosed. Find general statistics about survival for liver cancer. 

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can always come back to it later.

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with liver cancer. It depends on your individual situation and treatment. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

You can also talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

Survival by stage

There are no UK-wide statistics available for liver cancer. The following statistics are published in the European Clinical Practice Guidelines for liver cancer. They are based on the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) staging system. This system takes into account the size and location of the cancer, as well as how well your liver is working and your general health. There are different ways of staging liver cancer. The BCLC staging system is one staging system.

    For each stage, there are statistics for:

    • median survival, which is the length of time from diagnosis to the point at which half of the patients are still alive
    • 5 year survival, which is the number of people who survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis

    Stage 0

    Without treatment, the median survival for stage 0 liver cancer is more than 3 years.

    With treatment, between 70 and 90 out of 100 people (between 70 – 90%) will survive for 5 years or more.

    To treat stage 0 liver cancer, you might have a liver transplant, treatment to destroy the cancer (ablation therapy) or an operation to remove the cancer.

    Stage A

    Without treatment, the median survival for stage A liver cancer is 3 years.

    With treatment, between 50 and 70 out of 100 people (between 50 – 70%) will survive for 5 years or more.

    To treat stage A liver cancer, you might have a liver transplant, treatment to destroy the cancer (ablation therapy) or an operation to remove the cancer.

    Stage B

    Without treatment, the median survival for stage B liver cancer is 16 months.

    With treatment, the median survival for stage B liver cancer is 20 months.

    To treat stage B liver cancer, the doctor might inject chemotherapy into the liver via a large artery at the top of your leg (transarterial chemoembolisation).

    Stage C

    Without treatment, the median survival for stage C liver cancer is between 4 and 8 months

    With treatment, the median survival for stage C liver cancer is between 6 and 11 months.

    To treat stage C liver cancer, you might have a drug called sorafenib. Or your doctor may suggest a clinical trial.  

    Stage D

    Without treatment, the median survival for stage D liver cancer is less than 4 months.

    There are no treatments that work well for stage D liver cancers. But your doctors and specialist nurses will continue to treat any symptoms you may develop.

    Survival for all stages of liver cancer

    For adults diagnosed with liver cancer in England:

    • almost 35 out of 100 people (almost 35%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after diagnosis
    • more than 10 in 100 people (more than 10%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed

    Note that these figures relate to primary liver cancer in adults only. Primary liver cancer in children is very rare in the UK and their outlook is better than it is for adults.

    What affects survival

    Your outlook is affected by what treatment you can have. This depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed; meaning how big it is and whether it has spread.

    The treatment you have will also depend on the health of the liver tissue that is not affected by the cancer. 

    Your general health and fitness also affects survival.

    More statistics

    For more in-depth information about survival and liver cancer, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

    Last reviewed: 
    07 Mar 2015
    • Cancer Research UK
      Cancer Statistics Series

    • Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
      VT De Vita, S Hellman and SA Rosenberg
      Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

    • Cancer and Its Management (7th Edition)
      Jeffrey S. Tobias and Daniel Hochhauser
      Wiley-Blackwell, 2014

    • EASL-EORTC clinical practice guidelines: management of hepatocellular carcinoma
      European Association For The Study Of The Liver; European Organisation For Research And Treatment Of Cancer
      April 2012Volume 56, Issue 4, Pages 908–943

    • Hepatocellular carcinoma: ESMO–ESDO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
      C. Verslype, O. Rosmorduc, P. Rougier
      Ann Oncol (2012) 23 (suppl 7)

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