Medical Q&As

Secondary liver cancer - prognosis?

Four months ago I was diagnosed with secondary cancer of the liver and I am now three months into chemotherapy. I am now back working full time during my chemo treatments. Initially the doctors put me through every test to find the primary cancer but every test came up clear and the primary was never found. I am 27 years old and am anxious to know the prognosis as most of what I have read on liver metastases is grim reading and I havenít heard of any success stories in relation to this type of cancer.

Secondary cancer of the liver means that cancer cells that have originated in another part of the body have spread through the blood and lodged in the liver. It is usually possible to identify the tissue of origin by analysing these cells because the cells in the secondary cancer usually possess the characteristics of the primary organ from which they have arisen. For example if the primary cancer had spread from the colon to the liver the cancer cells within the liver would look like colon cells. However, sometimes the secondary cancer cells may be so amorphous that their site of origin cannot be identified. It is very difficult to give you any clear indication of your prognosis because such predictions are usually based on the identification of the organ from which the cancer has spread and the degree of differentiation of the cancer cells. As you have indicated in your question your predicament is uncertain but it is encouraging that you are back in fulltime work within four months of the original diagnosis. Your physical constitution and positive mental attitude are important factors in maintaining your remission. In summary, it is difficult to give a definitive prognosis to an individual with secondary carcinoma of the liver.