Liver Cancer Overview

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Liver cancer survival rates

Some people with cancer may want to know the survival rates for their type of cancer. Others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you do not want to read about the survival statistics for liver cancer, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Five-year rates are used as a standard way to discuss prognosis. Of course, some people live much longer than 5 years. Five-year relative survival rates compare the number of people who are still alive 5 years after their cancer was found to the survival of others the same age who don't have cancer. This is a better way to see the impact that cancer can have on survival.

Studies have shown that patients with small, resectable tumors (tumors that can be removed), who do not have cirrhosis or other serious health problems, are likely to do well if their cancers are removed. Their overall 5-year survival is over 50%. For people with early-stage liver cancers who are able to have a liver transplant, the 5-year survival rate is in the range of 60% to 70%.

But only a small number of liver cancers are found in the early stages and can be removed with surgery. For all stages combined, the relative 5-year survival rate from liver cancer is about 15%. Part of the reason for this low survival rate is that most patients with liver cancer also have other liver problems such as cirrhosis, which itself can be fatal.

Each person is different

While numbers provide an overall picture, keep in mind that every person's situation is unique and statistics can't predict exactly what will happen in your case. Talk with your cancer care team if you have questions about your own chances of a cure, or how long you might survive your cancer. They know your situation best.


Last Medical Review: 10/07/2013
Last Revised: 02/10/2014