Liver Cancer FAQs

Liver Cancer Frequently Asked Questions

Mercy’s gastrointestinal oncologists are dedicated to addressing your liver cancer needs from diagnosis to treatment to recovery. Below are answers to frequently asked questions about liver cancer. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 33,000 people are diagnosed with liver cancer and 27,000 die from liver cancer in the United States each year. Liver cancer rates among Americans have been growing steadily over the years, despite overall death rates from all other cancers declining. 

Liver cancer can spread to any area of the body if allowed to progress untreated. Usually when liver cancer cells divide and grow they will first spread to veins in the liver or nearby lymph nodes before spreading to distant organs, such as the bones or lungs. 

Survival rates for people with liver cancer vary depending on how severe their diagnosis is and what stage their cancer is in. However, according to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate of liver cancer is approximately 30%. 

How fast liver cancer spreads depends largely on what type of cancer it is and what stage it’s found in. Some rare types of cancer develop in the cells lining the blood vessels of the liver. These types can spread more quickly than others.  

While death rates from all combined cancers have been declining for years, death rates from liver cancer are on the rise in certain communities. This rise coincides with a steady increase of behaviors affecting harmful risk factors including alcohol consumption, obesity and hepatitis rates. 

Liver pain can take many different forms and depends on a person’s body type. People have reported experiencing a throbbing or stabbing sensation, aches in the lower back or shoulder and swelling that doesn’t subside.

Besides liver cancer, there are a number of causes for liver pain. Talk to your Mercy doctor right away if you experience persistent aches and pains. 

It’s rare, but some inherited metabolic diseases can increase your risk of developing cirrhosis, which is a common risk factor for liver cancer. People with inherited hemochromatosis, for example, absorb too much iron from their food. And if enough iron builds up in your liver, it could lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. 

Resources & Support

Mercy offers a variety of support & resources for liver cancer patients to nourish your mind and spirit while we fight your cancer.