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Adult Primary Liver Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Stages of Adult Primary Liver Cancer


The following stages are used for adult primary liver cancer:

Stage I

In stage I, there is one tumor and it has not spread to nearby blood vessels.

Pea, peanut, walnut, and lime show tumor sizes.

Stage II

In stage II, one of the following is found:

  • one tumor that has spread to nearby blood vessels; or
  • more than one tumor, none of which is larger than 5 centimeters.

Stage III

Stage III is divided into Stage IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC.

  • In stage IIIA, one of the following is found:
    • more than one tumor larger than 5 centimeters; or
    • one tumor that has spread to a major branch of blood vessels near the liver.
  • In stage IIIB, there are one or more tumors of any size that have either:
    • spread to nearby organs other than the gallbladder; or
    • broken through the lining of the peritoneal cavity.
  • In stage IIIC, the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IV

In stage IV, cancer has spread beyond the liver to other places in the body, such as the bones or lungs. The tumors may be of any size and may also have spread to nearby blood vessels and/or lymph nodes.

For adult primary liver cancer, stages are also grouped according to how the cancer may be treated. There are 3 treatment groups:

Localized resectable

The cancer is found in the liver only, has not spread, and can be completely removed by surgery.

Localized and locally advanced unresectable

The cancer is found in the liver only and has not spread, but cannot be completely removed by surgery.


Cancer has spread throughout the liver or has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and bone.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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