Non-resection approaches for colorectal liver metastases

Surg Clin North Am. 2004 Apr;84(2):587-606. doi: 10.1016/j.suc.2003.12.007.


The field of in situ destruction of liver tumors has expanded rapidly with various institutions' results suggesting that these methods represent viable palliative options, primarily because of the low associated morbidity and mortality. Despite this enthusiasm, clinical trials are needed to determine the true nature and degree of palliation. Treating a systemic disease such as colorectal liver metastases with local therapy strategies alone is of dubious value. In fact, it has been shown by most reports that the limiting factor inpatient outcome is disease progression rather than technical failure. For optimal results, physicians performing in situ ablation of liver lesions should be familiar with tumor biology and the natural history of the malignancy, and possess expertise in proper integration of other therapeutic modalities (eg, systemic chemotherapy and hepatic artery chemotherapy). Patients with liver metastases from colorectal carcinoma should therefore be evaluated for curability by a surgical oncologist within the context of a multidisciplinary team, as surgical resection remains the best treatment to achieve long-term survival. Such an assessment offers the patient the opportunity of a tailored therapy that may consist of hepatic resection, intravenous or regional chemotherapy, and local ablative therapy. Furthermore, results of RF ablation should be reported in terms of well-established oncological outcomes (eg, overall survival, disease-free survival, progression-free survival) that are more meaningful to the patient, rather than lesion-oriented outcomes. Because most of the ablative techniques have not yet been validated, it is imperative that well-designed clinical trials are conducted under the auspices of national cooperative groups. To consider them standard independent therapies otherwise would be premature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cryosurgery
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Laser Therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Microwaves
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Ethanol