Stages of liver cancer

The stage of a cancer describes its size and whether it has spread from where it first started.

About stages of liver cancer

The stage of a cancer describes its size and whether it has spread from where it first started. Knowing the stage is important. It helps you and your doctors to decide on the best treatment for you.

They will also use the Child-Pugh score to assess how well your liver is working.

We understand that waiting to know the stage of your cancer can be a worrying time. We're here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

Number staging

Doctors may use a number system to stage liver cancer (HCC):

Stage 1 – There is one tumour in the liver and the cancer has not spread into any blood vessels in the liver.

Stage 2 – There is one tumour that has spread into a blood vessel. Or there are several tumours but none are bigger than 5cm.

Stage 3 is divided into:

  • 3A – There is more than one tumour and at least one is bigger than 5cm.
  • 3B – The cancer has grown into a major blood vessel in the liver.
  • 3C – The cancer has spread outside the liver into organs nearby (except the gall bladder).

Stage 4 is divided into:

  • 4A – The cancer has spread outside the liver into lymph nodes in that area. Lymph nodes help fight infection. They are sometimes called lymph glands.
  • 4B – The cancer has spread to another part of the body, such as the lungs or bones.