Understanding the Complications of Liver Cancer
Receiving a liver cancer diagnosis can be frightening, and you probably have many questions. Perhaps, there is one you are afraid to ask.
You want to know if liver cancer is fatal and how much time do you have left. Both are questions that don’t have exact answers, but your likely outcome will depend on how advanced your cancer is.
Are You Ready?
The information on liver cancer survival rates may be difficult to process and is not something you should read up on if you are not ready for this information.
An important thing to consider is the survival statistics for liver cancer are general and do not necessarily apply to your unique case. No two cases are exactly alike, and the response to treatment varies from person to person.
Lastly, no one can tell you how long you will live with liver cancer or if you will be cured.
The decision to talk to your doctor about your prognosis is personal, and it is up to you to decide how much you want to know. Some people feel that it makes it easier to cope if they know what they are up against and others find survival statistics to be scary and confusing.
Your cancer doctor is the most familiar with your health and can discuss your prognosis and explain what the statistics mean for you. It is important to note and understand that your prognosis can change and cancer treatment outcomes are hard to forecast with precise accuracy.
Your cancer treatments may not work and your cancer may spread. However, it is also possible the treatments may work and your cancer shrinks and doesn’t spread to nearby tissue or organs.
Another option is surgery, this may involve removing a part of your liver, or you may receive a liver transplant – and you could be cured.
No one knows for sure what the final result will be, so it is important to focus on the big picture which is what you do after receiving a liver cancer diagnosis.
What Affects Survival?
According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate for liver cancer when discovered early on is 31%. There are, however, many different factors that would increase or decrease a person’s survival, including any additional liver diseases.
The reason the survival rate is low even in the early stages has a lot to do with how much damage the liver has experienced. Many people with liver cancer may have liver cirrhosis or other liver damage due to excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and other unhealthy habits.
Liver damage can make the liver inoperable. However, if you are fortunate enough to have a liver with little or no damage, surgery is a likely option for you and may increase your survival rate to up to 50%, according to the American Cancer Society.
A liver transplant in early-stage can bring up your survival rates up to 70%. Unfortunately, most cases of liver cancer are not detected early enough.
If the liver cancer has spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes, the survival rate decreases to 11%, and if the cancer has spread to distant organs and tissues, the survival rate drops to 3%.
For the most part, survival rates are highest if you have surgery to remove the tumor, regardless of how advanced the cancer is. If the cancer is eliminated during surgery, you are considered cured.
Next page: Learn about the different stages of liver cancer.