So you’ve just been diagnosed with metastatic liver cancer. You’re probably wondering what comes next. Most people’s first thoughts after they’ve been given such news is: how long do I have left?
That’s Not How This Works
The truth is, your survival rate with metastatic liver cancer (same as with most every other cancer) greatly depends on where it metastasized from, how much it has spread, as well as your own current health condition. While metastatic liver cancer is not curable in general, various treatments can serve to lessen symptoms and potentially shrink the tumors. The healthier you are to begin with, the more effective these treatments will be.
In general though, the prognosis for someone with metastatic liver cancer is not great. The American Cancer Society posted the statistics on the 5-year survival rate for patients between the years 2009 and 2015 based on the information collected by the SEER database. This database groups survival rates by size of spread, rather than the various stages cancer is generally labeled by. Someone with what they call localized cancer (that is, cancer that has not appeared to spread anywhere else) has a 33 percent chance of survival at the 5-year mark. Someone with regional cancer (cancer has spread to parts close to the liver or lymph nodes) only has an 11 percent chance of survival to the 5-year mark. Someone with distant cancer (cancer that has definitely spread to other parts of the body such as your lung or bones) has the most abysmal survival rate of all: a mere 2 percent. A person whose cancer can be surgically removed is in a slightly better place than someone whose cancer cannot be removed at all.
While the news in general is dispiriting for those with metastatic liver cancer, your healthcare team will do their utmost to accurately diagnose and give you the best treatment options available to help manage living with it. They will make sure to investigate the cancer fully and take into account the size, location, and where it has spread before offering a likely forecast of the course of the cancer.
With that being said, there are always advances being made in cancer treatment. It’s always advisable to speak with your doctor about those advances and see if a clinical trial or new treatment may be right for you.