Unfortunately liver cancer is often diagnosed late, when the disease is very advanced. Complete healing, total elimination of the tumor, is rarely achieved. The five-year survival rate is about 17% for immediate cases. The reason is because although treatments are possible in most cases recurrence rate is high, 80 to 85% within first five years after diagnosis.
In term general, the five year survival rates after liver cancer diagnosis vary greatly depending on the stage of evolution of the cancer at diagnosis: 25% in the forms in which the tumor is located, less than 10% in the forms where the tumor is more extensive or the cancer has metastasized. However, in case liver transplant is performed to treat the cancer, the rate of five-year survival is about 70%.
The stage distribution based on Summary Stage 2000 shows that:
- 37% of liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer cases are diagnosed while the cancer is still confined to the primary site (localized stage);
- 26% are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes or directly beyond the primary site;
- 19% are diagnosed after the cancer has already metastasized (distant stage) and for the remaining 18% the staging information was unknown.
The corresponding 5-year relative survival rates were:
- 25.7% for localized;
- 8.5% for regional;
- 2.4% for distant;
- 5.8% for unstaged.
However, the survival rate tends to differ from one race to another. The overall 5-year relative survival rate for 1999-2005 was 13.1%. Five-year relative survival rates by race and sex were:
- 12.4% for white men;
- 13.6% for white women;
- 8.3% for black men;
- 10.0% for black women.