Stages of Liver Cancer

Liver cancer stages or phases are the main parameters upon which whole process of liver cancer treatment as well as prognosis is based. Stages of liver cancer not only give an indication about the intensity of cancerous growth and spread but also help in making out average liver cancer survival rate with respect to the victim. What’s more is that the stage of liver cancer is also important to understand overall liver cancer prognosis rate of the patient and the kind of consequences one may have to face during or after taking treatments.

What are Liver Cancer Stages?

Stages of liver cancer are the main steps in which a tumor progresses within the local region or spreads from local to remote areas. Like all other cancers, stages of liver cancer are of four basic types.  Different staging systems have been devised over the years including the TNM (Tumor, node, metastasis) system from the American Joint Committee on Cancer which was revised in 2010.

The TNM classification is only used for hepatocellular carcinoma while intrahepatic bile duct cancer has a different staging classification.

First stage refers mainly to growth of tumors that are limited only to local region. Second and third stages describe gradual spread of tumors from local to regional areas while the fourth stage informs about spread of polyps to remote areas.

Classification of stages may be different for primary and secondary tumors. Primary tumors are the ones that develop initially in areas of liver. Such tumors can be restricted to local areas itself if early liver cancer diagnosis and cure is undergone. Keeping control on secondary form of tumors is difficult because such tumors have their origin in region other than liver. Primary tumors metastasize in advanced phases and reach other organs. Secondary tumors reach liver only when the cancer of respective organ in which such tumors originate reaches late phases.

Liver cancer treatments are also based on the origin and size of tumors. Small tumors that are present only in local region can be treated safely and efficiently through liver cancer surgery. Same is not the case with comparatively larger tumors that are spread to various areas of victim’s body and possess high potential to metastasize. These tumors can be best controlled, if not eliminated, through aggressive methods like radiation therapy (killing tumors by radiations), chemical therapy (killing polyps through medically prescribed anti-cancer drugs), or cryosurgery (passing liquid nitrogen through cancer cells to kill them by freezing).

Main aim of calculating liver cancer stages is to recommend best suitable liver cancer therapy for a victim considering his medical past and other mental or physical factors. Some of the basic stages of liver cancer are classified as under

Basic Liver Cancer Stages

Stage 1 is the most basic phase representing development of usually a single solitary tumor that has not affected lymph nodes or blood cells and is present only in local area of liver.

Stage 2 is a progressive step wherein there’s either a single tumor that’s spread to vasculature or multiple tumors are of the size less than or equal to 5 cm. There may be one or more tumors present simultaneously but there is no spread to they lymph nodes or beyond.

Stage 3 is a serious stage in which the tumors can be of size larger than 5cm and if there’s just a single tumor, it involves a major branch of the hepatic or portal vein.

Stage 4 is the final stage wherein the tumor(s) have either at least spread to the regional lymph nodes or there are distant metastasis.  Lymph nodes and blood cells are the ones to get targeted first followed by other major regions of body.

Liver cancer stages have to be determined carefully under suitable medical advice. Proper health and strong immune system can be of major help in restricting tumors to local areas and keeping metastasis rate as low as possible.

Caren Lee

I'm Caren Lee and I'm studying on various cancer symptoms. I write about various cancers that help people in getting adequate knowledge about the disease. I consider the reader comments even more important than my own posts!

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