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Liver Cancer

Staging Liver Cancer

If a liver cancer diagnosis is made, the doctor needs to know the stage, or extent, of the cancer in order to plan the best liver cancer treatment. Staging is an attempt to find out the size of the tumor, whether the disease has spread, and, if so, to what parts of the body. Careful staging shows whether the tumor can be removed with surgery. This is important, because most liver cancers cannot be removed with surgery.
The doctor may determine the cancer's stage at the time of diagnosis, or the patient may need more tests.
The following stages pertain to adult primary liver cancer:
  • Stage I
  • Stage II
  • Stage III
  • Stage IV
  • Recurrent.
For adult primary liver cancer, stages are also grouped according to how the cancer may be treated. There are three treatment groups:
  • Localized resectable
  • Localized and locally advanced unresectable
  • Advanced.


(Click Stages of Liver Cancer for more information.)



At this time, liver cancer can be cured only when it is found at an early stage (before it has spread) and only if the patient is healthy enough to have an operation. However, treatment methods for liver cancer other than surgery may be able to control the disease and help patients live longer and feel better.
When a cure or control of the disease is not possible, some patients and their doctors choose palliative therapy. Palliative therapy aims to improve the quality of a person's life by controlling pain and other problems caused by the disease.
Some factors that may influence the treatment for liver cancer include:
  • The stage of the cancer (see Stages of Liver Cancer)
  • The number, size, and location of tumors
  • Whether the cancer has spread outside the liver
  • The patient's age
  • The patient's general health.
In general, treatments include:
Choosing the most appropriate treatment is a decision that ideally involves the patient, family, and healthcare team.
(Click Liver Cancer Treatment for more information.)
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Cancer of the Liver

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