After the diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will determine the stage of the cancer. Staging the cancer is an important step; it helps your health care provider to choose the most effective treatment. In general, the stage of liver cancer is determined by the size of the tumor and its degree of spread within your body. To confirm with certainty the stage of a liver cancer, your physician may perform surgery, additional testing or removal of some lymph nodes near the tumor.
There are several methods used to define the stage of a liver cancer. The most common is the use of Roman numerals I, II, III and IV, which reads as stage I, stage II, stage III, stage IV. A higher number indicates a more serious liver cancer.
- carcinoma in situ (CIS) – also called stage 0, carcinoma in situ is the genesis of the cancercells;
- Stage I – at stage 1, the cancer is located in the liver without invading any blood vessels.
- Stage II – at this stage, the tumor has grown to affect nearby blood vessels; the cancer can be multiple small tumors in your liver.
- Stage III – the size of the tumor has increased; the cancer has spread to nearby blood vessels, and/or nearby organs such as gallbladder.
- Stage IV – at stage 4, the cancer has formed several larger tumors in the liver, and has spread from the liver to remote sites.