What factors affect secondary liver cancer prognosis?


Quick Answer

The prognosis for patients who have either primary or secondary liver cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, reports MedicineNet. In secondary liver cancer, which originates elsewhere in the body before spreading to the liver, the health of the other affected organs and tissues also influences prognosis.

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Full Answer

Oncologists use a combination of liver biopsy, blood tests and imaging tests to determine the stage of liver cancer. The stage describes the location of the cancer, whether the cancer has spread, the extent to which it has spread and whether it has affected the body. Compared to primary liver cancer, which originates in the liver and has not spread to other areas, secondary liver cancer is more common and has a less favorable prognosis. Likewise, says WebMD, cancer in its earliest stages generally has a more favorable prognosis in both primary and secondary cases.

Prognosis for secondary liver cancer depends in part on the prognosis for the primary cancer from which it metastasized. Experts at the Mayo Clinic explain that while primary liver cancer requires treatment of the liver alone, secondary liver cancer necessitates treatment of both the liver and the other affected organ(s). Doctors may succeed in removing or shrinking the cancerous parts of the liver, but this has little or no effect on other affected areas.

For example, a patient who has liver cancer that originated in the stomach but which has not spread elsewhere has a more favorable prognosis than a patient whose cancer has spread from the stomach to the liver and bowel. WebMD notes that in advanced secondary liver cancer, treatment plans focus on managing symptoms and prolonging life rather than removing or treating the cancerous cells.

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