Liver Cancer – Types & Stages

Radiation Therapy Cancer Treatment in Phoenix, AZ


At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, our mission is to do more than simply help our patients beat cancer: we strive to help each and every patient thrive during treatment and recovery, prioritizing noninvasive treatment plans that allow our patients to reclaim a healthy, a normal life as quickly as possible. We proudly operate 6 state-of-the-art treatment centers serving Glendale, Scottsdale, Payson, and the greater Phoenix area, and our world-class cancer treatment team uses some of the most advanced cancer-fighting technology in the world to treat our patients. We’re proud to treat virtually all forms of cancer at our practice, including any type or stage of liver cancer.


Types of Liver Cancer


The liver is the largest internal organ, and it performs a variety of important bodily functions ranging from filtering away toxins to breaking down and metabolizing nutrients from food. There are a several forms of primary liver cancer (cancer that starts in liver cells).


Hepatocellular Carcinoma (Hepatocellular Cancer)


This is by far the most common type of liver cancer, accounting for more than 80% of cases. This cancer begins in the hepatocytes, which are the main kind of liver cell. Hepatocellular carcinoma has two common growth patterns: it may grow slowly as a single tumor and only spread to other parts of the liver late in the disease, or it may start as many small spots of cancer throughout the liver instead of a single tumor. The second pattern is most common in people with liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver that can occur with alcohol or drug abuse) and is the most common form.


Rarer Forms of Liver Cancer


Hepatocellular cancer is the most common type of liver cancer, but there are a few other, rarer forms. These include:


  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer): Accounting for 10 to 20% of cases, this forms in the bile ducts (small tubes that carry bile to the gallbladder). Bile duct cancer and hepatocellular cancer are often treated similarly.
  • Angiosarcoma: This is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to certain chemicals.
  • Hepatoblastoma: This a very rare form of cancer that affects children under 4 years old.


Stages of Liver Cancer


Similar to many other forms of cancer, the severity of liver cancer is assessed using a numbered, four-stage system, with the least severe cases being Stage I and the most severe being Stage IV. Staging is determined using the TNM classification system, which assesses three variables:


  • Tumor: The size of the primary tumor(s). Also determines if a tumor has grown into nearby blood vessels.
  • Node: The extent to which cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Metastasis: The extent to which the cancer has metastasized (spread) to distant parts of the body or other organs.


Taken together, these variables are used to classify a given cancer case as an overall stage. Liver cancer staging runs as follows:


  • Stage I: There is only one tumor that has not reached blood vessels, affected lymph nodes, or spread to distant sites.
  • Stage II: Either a single tumor that has grown into a blood vessel or several tumors, each less than 5cm across. In either case, the cancer has not affected lymph nodes or spread to distant sites.
  • Stage IIIA: More than one tumor and at least one is greater than 5cm across. The cancer has not reached lymph nodes or distant sites.
  • Stage IIIB: The cancer hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or distant sites, but at least one tumor in the liver has grown into a major vein.
  • Stage IIIC: Either a tumor is growing into the lining of the liver or into a nearby organ aside from the gallbladder. In either case, the tumor has not yet spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.
  • Stage IVA: Tumors in the liver may be any size and may or may not have grown into blood vessels, but the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage IVB: The tumor and lymph nodes may be any condition, but the cancer has metastasized to distant sites.


Schedule an Appointment with Your Glendale, AZ Cancer Experts

Liver cancer is among the most common cancerous conditions in the US, and if you or someone you loved has been affected, the team at Palo Verde Cancer Specialists may be able to help. We use only the latest in world-class treatments, and we can often design nonsurgical, noninvasive treatments for our patients. Contact us today to find out more about our cancer treatment facilities and schedule your consultation. Working together, we’ll help you beat cancer and reclaim the life you deserve.

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