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Stages of Liver Cancer

If you have liver cancer, staging will help to describe the extent of the disease. It is important to know the stage of the cancer in order to plan treatment. The stages include I through IV and recurrent cases of the cancer. In addition, cases of liver cancer are further categorized based on whether the cancer can be completely removed by surgery or not.

Stages of Liver Cancer: An Introduction

If a doctor makes a liver cancer diagnosis, he or she then needs to know the stage of the cancer to plan treatment. Liver cancer stages refer to extent of the disease. 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.

Staging Tests

Imaging tests can help the doctor determine whether the liver cancer has spread. The doctor also may use a laparoscope to look directly at the liver and nearby organs. The following tests and procedures may be used to determine the stage of the cancer:
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Bone scan
  • Ultrasound.
CT Scan
A CT scan (also called a CAT scan) is a procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
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