Cancer of the liver usually develops in people who have had cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, for a number of years and most likely decades. So these patients are quite sick even before getting cancer and they are not good candidates to handle major liver surgery successfully.
Patients whose overall health is in great condition and have small sized tumors are usually best able to tolerate surgery. This group of patients may have a survival rate approaching 50% at five years after diagnosis.
So, liver cancer can be cured, but only through surgery or a liver transplant. There is also a high rate of recurrence for liver cancer that has been moved by surgery. Other cancer treatments such as radiation will only decrease the size of the tumor and slow its growth.