Survival statistics for liver cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Statistics and outlook for liver cancer

Outlook means the likely outcome of your disease and treatment. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. With liver cancer, the likely outcome and treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage of your cancer).

Below, we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of liver cancer. The statistics are intended as a general guide only. For a more complete picture in your case, you need to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wishes to read this type of information. Remember you can skip this page if you don't want to read it, you can always come back to it.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating liver cancer section.

 

 

Liver cancer survival

Find out about liver cancer survival.

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

 

 

Survival by stage

There are different ways of staging liver cancer. One of the systems is called the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) staging system.

Read more about the stages of liver cancer.

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 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. 

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 chemoembolization).

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.

Read more about treatment for liver cancer.

 

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

Remember - these figures relate to primary liver cancer in adults. Primary liver cancer in children is very rare in the UK. But the outlook for children 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. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

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

Your general health and fitness also affect survival.

 

About these cancer statistics

The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

The survival statistics for all stages of liver cancer are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival.

 

Clinical trials

Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve treatments for liver cancer. There is more about understanding clinical trials in our trials and research section. You can search for trials for liver cancer on our clinical trials database

 

More statistics

Read more about understanding statistics in cancer research and incidence, mortality and survival statistics.

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

 

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Updated: 7 March 2015