The staging of a cancer generally describes the size and location of the cancer as well as how far it has spread. Liver cancer can be staged on a scale between 1 and 4, with the higher number indicating a more advanced and metastasized cancer. Doctors may also use the following terms to characterize liver cancer in adults:
- Localized resectable: In this stage, the tumor is confined to one lobe of the liver and can be completely removed in an operation.
- Localized unresectable: Though this type of tumor is only found in one part of the liver, it cannot be completely removed, either because the noncancerous part of the liver is not healthy enough or because the cancer is too close to the liver’s arteries, veins and bile ducts.
- Advanced: The cancer has spread throughout the liver and to other parts of the body, usually the bones and lungs. Individuals with chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis are more likely to have advanced liver cancer.
- Recurrent: This is the term for cancer that has returned after treatment.