Taxonomy of the Liver Cancer Survival Rate

The liver cancer survival rate is mostly not good news.  Like most cancers originating in our abdominal organs, it has a low survival rate compared to other more peripheral cancers.  In addition, its location makes it difficult to detect early.  Nevertheless, some factors affect your likelihood of getting and surviving liver cancer.

First, when we are discussing liver cancer we are actually discussing more than one type of cancer, depending on what part or aspect of the liver your cancer is affecting.  The type of cancer you have greatly affects your prognosis.

Hepatoblastoma

This type of cancer typically presents in children.  The medical community believes the main causes for this kind of liver cancer is hereditary disposition or abnormalities in natal development (a pluripotent stem cell, for example). 

The good news for this type of cancer, if there is ever good news when it comes to cancer in children, is that it has a good prognosis for patients that find a well-suited match for transplant. In patients who get a successful liver transplant match, the liver cancer survival rate is near perfect.   Even when some complications occur in the transplant process, 4 out of 5 patients survive and go on to live normal healthy lives.

Medical providers carefully monitor patients in the risk groups typical for colon polyps.  In addition, medical professionals believe weight in the lower ranges at birth may be a sign of increased risk for hepatoblastoma. 

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

This is a very common cancer in the Third World but is fairly rare in the United States.  The two main causes of this cancer is cirrhosis (due to excessive alcohol, usually) or chronic hepatitis.  Because this disease is typical in the Third World, patients do not usually seek medical help until they have started presenting severe signs.  For this reason, by the time patients present they have already progressed beyond the point where treatment is effective.  Furthermore, because these patients have only Third World facilities for their treatment, they have few options.

Typically, the liver cancer survival rate for hepatocellular carcinoma is only 10-20%.  Most patients die with 3-6 months of presentation.

Bile Duct Cancers

Less than 20% of all liver cancers begin in the bile ducts (only about 1 in 50 thousand people in the world develop this type of cancer).  This cancer is rarely detected until it has reached its later stages, since the symptoms only typically begin once the disease has become well entrenched.  The only cure is surgical removal of all tumors.  Since, however, tumor growth is typically widespread by the time of detection, this option is usually impossible.

The liver cancer survival rate for patients with late stage bile duct cancer is virtually 0%.  Most patients die within one year.

Liver Cancers in the Blood

Liver cancers that start in the blood of the liver are even rarer than bile duct cancer but they are just as lethal because of their rapid spread and growth.  Typically, the patient will present when the cancer has progressed too far for treatment.

Lymphoma of the Liver

Just as rare and untreatable is lymphoma of the liver.  Most patients do not survive this kind of cancer.

The bad news about liver cancers is that the World Health Organization has seen a rise of their incidence throughout the world.  Even the rarer types of liver cancer seem to be on the rise.  The causes for these rises are unclear.

The good news however is that cancer research is progressing.  With the help of the genome project, for example, scientists have started increasing their understanding of how such cancers grow and develop.  Although we are not yet close to a cure, many scientists have developed better and more effective treatments.