Objective: To evaluate retrospectively the long-term results of an approach consisting of performing surgery in every patient in whom radical removal of all metastatic disease was technically feasible.
Summary background data: The indications for surgical resection for liver metastases from colorectal cancer remain controversial. Several clinical risk factors have been reported to influence survival.
Methods: Between March 1980 and December 1997, 235 patients underwent hepatic resection for metastatic colorectal cancer. Survival rates and disease-free survival as a function of clinical and pathologic determinants were examined retrospectively with univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: The overall 3-, 5-, 10-, and 15-year survival rates were 51%, 38%, 26%, and 24%, respectively. The stage of the primary tumor, lymph node metastasis, and multiple nodules were significantly associated with a poor prognosis in both univariate and multivariate analyses. Disease-free survival was significantly influenced by lymph node metastasis, a short interval between treatment of the primary and metastatic tumors, and a high preoperative level of carcinoembryonic antigen. The 10-year survival rate of patients with four or more nodules (29%) was better than that of patients with two or three nodules (16%), and similar to that of patients with a solitary lesion (32%).
Conclusions: Surgical resection is useful for treating liver metastases from colorectal cancer. Although multiple metastases significantly impaired the prognosis, the life expectancy of patients with four or more nodules mandates removal.