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Liver cancer

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Survival statistics for liver cancer

Survival statistics for liver cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for liver cancer and what they mean to you.

Relative survival

Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

In Canada, a 5-year relative survival statistic is reported for liver cancer. The 5-year relative survival for liver cancer is 20%. This means that, on average, people diagnosed with liver cancer are 20% as likely to live 5 years after their diagnosis as people in the general population.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of liver cancer. The following factors can also affect survival for liver cancer.

  • Liver cancer is not often found until it is at an advanced stage, when it can no longer be removed by surgery.
  • Having liver disease, such as cirrhosis, can affect survival.
  • Survival by stage of liver cancer is usually reported as a median survival. Median survival is the period of time (usually months or years) after diagnosis or treatment at which half of the people with a given disease will live longer and the other half will live less.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the median survival of different stages of liver cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources and may include statistics from other countries.

Liver cancer survival in the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) system
BCLC stageSurvival

0 or A

Median 5-year survival is 40%–70%, if treated with liver resection, radiofrequency ablation, or RFA, (for tumours 2 cm or less) or liver transplant.


Median survival is 16 months. It may increase to 20 months with transarterial chemoembolization (TACE).


Median survival is 8 months. It may increase to 11 months with targeted therapy.


Median survival is 3 months.

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • type of cancer
  • stage of the cancer
  • characteristics of the cancer
  • treatments chosen
  • response to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.


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