Background: The heterogeneous nature of carcinoid tumors makes it difficult to develop a standardized treatment strategy for the primary tumor itself and for probable liver metastases. However, prolongation of the 5-year survival rate (5-ysr) and amelioration of the incapacitating symptoms after resection of the primary tumor and its metastases demonstrate that surgical intervention must be the treatment of choice in these tumors.
Methods: The data of 31 patients (17 patients with midgut carcinoids, 10 patients with an endocrine carcinoma (carcinoid) of the pancreas, and 4 patients with carcinoids of the lung) who underwent liver operation for metastatic carcinoid tumors between 1983 and 1996 were analyzed, with special regard to factors influencing postoperative survival.
Results: Ten patients underwent curative resection (5-ysr, 86%), and palliative operations were performed in 21 patients (5-ysr, 26%). The overall 5-ysr was 47%, with a mean postoperative follow-up of 3.5 years (range, 4 months to 10.8 years). Postoperative morbidity rate was 13%. Size of liver metastases, radicality of the operation and localization of the primary tumor were factors influencing postoperative survival.
Conclusions: Surgery for metastatic carcinoid tumors may be curative or palliative, with a potential for cure in some cases and prolongation of survival and amelioration of symptoms in the majority of patients.