What Factors Affect Metastatic Liver Cancer Prognosis?

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  • Written By: Cindy Quarters
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2018
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When cancer starts in another organ or place in the body and then spreads to the liver it is called metastatic liver cancer. This type of cancer, which is also known as metastatic liver cancer, actually has the characteristics of the original cancer and is treated differently from primary liver cancer, which is cancer that develops in the liver. A variety of factors, such as the general health of the cancer patient, his or her age, the status of the original cancer and how severe the metastasis is can all significantly affect a metastatic liver cancer prognosis.

Secondary liver cancer is most likely to metastasize from certain other types of cancer. These include colorectal cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, melanoma and adrenal cancer. Metastatic liver cancer prognosis depends in part on the site of the original cancer and how severe that cancer is.

The liver’s role filtering all of the blood from the body, sifting out toxins, means it is not uncommon for the liver to be the only site of metastasis from cancer elsewhere in the body when it is first discovered. It is possible that metastatic cancer may be found in the liver before the original tumor is discovered. Regardless of whether the site of the primary cancer is known, early treatment improves the metastatic liver cancer prognosis.


Several tests are used to evaluate secondary liver cancer. A gamma positron emission tomography (PET) scan looks at sugar uptake in the liver, in order to diagnose cancer as early as possible. The extreme drug resistance test (EDR) is used to evaluate how resistant a solid tumor will be to certain chemotherapy drugs. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is done to help doctors accurately evaluate the liver. Together, all of these tests help indicate how treatable the cancer is and how much damage has been done to the liver, and, ultimately help doctors establish a metastatic liver cancer prognosis.

Symptoms of secondary liver cancer such as pain, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, confusion, fever, nausea and sweats indicate that the cancer is interfering with the function of the liver. The longer these symptoms go on, indicating continuing damage to the liver, the more likely the cancer patient is to end up with a poor metastatic liver cancer prognosis. As with any cancer, the earlier it is detected and treated, the better the chance for a cure.



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