The difference between stage 4 liver cancer and stage 3 liver cancer is that in stage 4A, the cancer has spread to local lymph nodes, reports the American Cancer Society. In the more advanced stage 4B, the cancer has metastasized to distant organs. In stage 3 liver cancer, the cancer has not spread to local lymph nodes or distant organs in the body.
There are three versions of stage 3 liver cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. In stage 3A, there is more than one tumor in the liver and at least one is 2 inches across or larger. With stage 3B, at least one tumor has invaded the portal or hepatic vein. In stage 3C, the tumor has breached the outer layer of the liver or it is growing into another organ that is not the gallbladder.
In stage 4A liver cancer, there are tumors of any number or size, explains the American Cancer Society, and the tumors have penetrated into local organs or into blood vessels as well as local nymph nodes. In stage 4B, tumors of any number or size have spread to other organs in the body and may or may not have invaded the lymph nodes.
The five-year survival rate for liver cancer is not based on these stages but on whether the cancer is localized, regional or distant, the American Cancer Society advises. If the cancer has traveled to distant sites, the five-year survival rate is 2 percent.