Survival rates show the percentage of people with a certain type and stage of cancer who survive it for a certain period of time after they are diagnosed. A five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who are alive at least five years after they are diagnosed. These are the people it includes:
Those who are free of disease (there are no signs of cancer)
Those who have few or no signs or symptoms of cancer
Those who are still undergoing treatment for cancer
Many people included in the five-year survival rate live much longer than five years after diagnosis. Also, because the statistic is based on people diagnosed and initially treated more than five years ago, it's possible that the outlook could be better today. People who are newly diagnosed often have a more favorable outlook. That is because of improvements in treatment.
Survival rates are based on large groups of people. They cannot be used to predict what will happen to a particular person. No two people are exactly alike. Treatment and responses to treatment vary greatly.
The overall five-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer combined is about 15 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. The five-year survival rate for people with early stage cancer that can be removed with surgery and who do not have cirrhosis or other major health problems is over 50 percent. When cancer has spread throughout the liver or to distant sites, the five-year survival rate is 2 percent.