Current treatment for liver metastases from colorectal cancer

World J Gastroenterol. 2003 Feb;9(2):193-200. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v9.i2.193.


The liver is the commonest site of distant metastasis of colorectal cancer and nearly half of the patients with colorectal cancer ultimately develop liver involved during the course of their diseases. Surgery is the only therapy that offers the possibility of cure for patients with hepatic metastatic diseases. Five-year survival rates after resection of all detectable liver metastases can be up to 40 %. Unfortunately, only 25 % of patients with colorectal liver metastases are candidates for liver resection, while the others are not amenable to surgical resection. Regional therapies such as radiofrequency ablation and cryotherapy may be offered to patients with isolated unresectable metastases but no extrahepatic diseases. Hepatic artery catheter chemotherapy and chemoembolization and portal vein embolization are often used for the patients with extensive liver metastases but without extrahepatic diseases, which are not suitable for regional ablation. For the patients with metastatic colorectal cancer beyond the liver, systemic chemotherapy is a more appropriate choice. Immunotherapy is also a good option when other therapies are used in combination to enhance the efficacy. Selective internal radiation therapy is a new radiation method which can be used in patients given other routine therapies without effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cryotherapy
  • Drug Therapy
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Radiotherapy