The prognosis for those afflicted with liver cancer depends largely on the stage of the cancer when it is initially discovered, according to the American Cancer Society. As of 2015, the five-year relative survival rate for localized cancer of the liver is 28 percent.
Localized cancer is cancer that has not spread beyond the liver, reports the American Cancer Society. All stage 1 and 2 liver cancers and some stage 3 cancers of the liver are classified as localized.
Once liver cancer grows into nearby organs and travels to surrounding lymph nodes, it is in its regional stage, notes the American Cancer Society. The five-year relative survival rate for liver cancer is just 7 percent. This classification includes all stage 3C and 4A liver cancer types.
Once liver cancer spreads to distant organs and tissues, which is stage 4B cancer, the prognosis is even poorer, notes the American Cancer Society. The five-year relative survival rate at this stage is just 2 percent.
When all stages, including localized, regional and distant are combined, the overall average relative five-year survival rate for liver cancer patients is 15 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. This low survival rate is due to the fact that most people with liver cancer also have other conditions that generally have poor prognoses, such as cirrhosis of the liver.