A secondary liver cancer prognosis depends on a number of factors. The type of primary cancer with which a patient has been diagnosed greatly affects the way the secondary cancer in the liver will respond to treatment. If the primary cancer responded well to a certain type of treatment, chances are good that the same treatment will be effective against cancer cells in the liver. The size of the tumor in the liver and the area that it affects also influence a patient's secondary liver cancer prognosis. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, this will also have an effect on a patient's chances of beating the cancer.
The first thing doctors consider when determining a patient's secondary liver cancer prognosis is where the primary cancer originated. In about 50 percent of cases of secondary liver cancer, the cancer started out as colorectal cancer. Cancer of the kidneys, lungs, breasts or stomach also can lead to secondary liver cancer. Treatment for the secondary cancer will often use the methods that were shown to be most successful against the patient's primary cancer, because the tumor in the liver will usually respond to treatment in a similar fashion.
Another factor that affects a secondary liver cancer prognosis is how aggressive and severe the liver cancer is. If the tumors are small, it may be possible to remove most of the cancer through surgery, which can affect a person's chance of surviving the cancer. Likewise, cancer that is slow-growing gives doctors more time to treat the disease. If the cancer is in a part of the liver that is essential to the organ, or if it has spread throughout the liver, the prognosis will not be as good.
Whether the cancer has spread beyond the liver will also affect a patient's secondary liver cancer prognosis. If the cancer is confined to the primary system and the liver, it is possible that it can still be effectively controlled. On the other hand, cancer that has spread to other organs may make it difficult to target the treatment to the damaged systems. In general, the more systems that are affected with cancerous cells, the more difficult it is to treat. More aggressive treatments may be needed to fight secondary liver cancer that has spread to other systems.