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Liver cancer stages

  • When diagnosed with liver cancer, you will be told what stage the cancer is at. Liver cancer stages outline how "bad" or "advanced" your disease is. This can help you and your care team evaluate what liver cancer treatments may help.


    Treatment classifications

    Stage I is when there is only one tumor. Liver cancer has not spread to other areas of the body.

    The tumor usually can be removed completely by surgery. This is called localized resectable cancer.

    Stage II is when one liver tumor has spread to nearby blood vessels. It can also be when there are many tumors that all are less than 5 centimeters wide.

    Some stage II liver tumors may be removed fully by surgery if you do not also have cirrhosis.

    Stage IIIA is when there are many liver tumors with at least one being larger than 5 centimeters wide. It can also be when one tumor has gone into major blood vessels near the liver.

    In most cases, not all of the liver tumors can be removed by surgery. This is called localized unresectable cancer.

    Stage IIIB is when there are more than one liver tumors of any size. The cancer either has spread to nearby organs (but not the gallbladder); or entered the lining that covers the liver.

    Since surgery often cannot entirely remove the liver tumors, this is called localized unresectable cancer.

    Stage IIIC is when liver cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, regardless of the number or size of tumors.

    In most cases, surgery will be effective for stage IIIC liver cancer. This is called advanced cancer.

    Stage IV is metastatic, the most advanced stage of liver cancer. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as bones, blood vessels, the lungs and lymph nodes.

    Surgery often is not an effective treatment for advanced liver cancer.

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