Background: The purpose of the study was to characterize histological response to chemotherapy of hepatic colorectal metastases (HCRM), evaluate efficacy of different chemotherapies on histological response, and determine whether tumor regression grading (TRG) of HCRM predicts clinical outcome.
Patients and methods: TRG was evaluated on 525 HCRM surgically resected from 181 patients, 112 pretreated with chemotherapy. Disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) were correlated to TRG.
Results: Tumor regression was characterized by fibrosis overgrowing on tumor cells, decreased necrosis, and tumor glands (if present) at the periphery of HCRM. With irinotecan/5-fluorouracil (5-FU), major (MjHR), partial (PHR), and no (NHR) histological tumor regression were observed in 17%, 13%, and 70% of patients, respectively. With oxaliplatin/5-FU, MjHR, PHR, and NHR were observed in 37%, 45%, and 18% of patients, respectively. Five patients, treated with oxaliplatin, had complete response in all their metastases. MjHR was associated with an improved 3-year DFS compared with PHR or NHR. MjHR and PHR were associated with an improved 5-year OS compared with NHR.
Conclusion: Histological tumor regression of HCRM to chemotherapy corresponds to fibrosis overgrowth and not to increase of necrosis. TRG should be considered when evaluating efficacy of chemotherapy for HCRM. Histological tumor regression was most common among oxaliplatin-treated patients and associated with better clinical outcome.