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Liver Cancer Prognosis

A liver cancer prognosis is a medical opinion as to the likely course and outcome of the disease. For a person with liver cancer, his or her prognosis will depend on many different factors, including the type of liver cancer, the stage the disease is in, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Although doctors will often look at statistics from hundreds (or even thousands) of cases when considering a patient's liver cancer prognosis, it's important to remember that a prognosis is a prediction -- doctors cannot say with certainty what the outcome will be in an individual case.

Liver Cancer Prognosis: An Overview

People facing liver cancer are naturally concerned about what the future holds. Understanding liver cancer and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones:
  • Think about lifestyle changes
  • Make decisions about their quality of life and finances.


Many people with liver cancer want to know their liver cancer prognosis. They may ask their doctor for information or search for statistics on their own.


What Is a Prognosis?

A prognosis gives an idea of the likely course and outcome of a disease -- that is, the chance that a patient will recover or have a recurrence (return of the cancer). Many factors affect a person's prognosis. Some of the most important are:
  • The type and location of the cancer
  • The stage of the disease (the extent to which the cancer has metastasized, or spread)
  • Its grade (how abnormal the cancer cells look and how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread).
Other factors that may also affect the prognosis include the person's age, general health, and response to treatment.
When doctors consider a person's prognosis, they carefully weigh all the factors that could affect that person's disease and treatment, and then try to predict what might happen. The doctor bases the prognosis on information researchers have collected over many years about hundreds, or even thousands, of people with cancer. When possible, the doctor uses statistics based on groups of people whose situations are most similar to that of an individual patient.
The doctor may speak of a favorable prognosis if the cancer is likely to respond well to treatment. The prognosis may be unfavorable if the cancer is likely to be difficult to control. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a prognosis is only a prediction. The doctor cannot be absolutely certain about the outcome for a particular patient.
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