Background: Pulmonary metastases occur in up to 10% of all patients who undergo curative resection. Surgical resection is an important part in the treatment of pulmonary metastasis from colorectal cancer. We analyzed the treatment outcome and prognostic factors affecting survival in this subset of patients.
Materials and methods: Between October 1994 and December 2004, 59 patients underwent curative resection for pulmonary metastases of colorectal cancer. Uncontrollable synchronous liver and lung metastasis or synchronous colorectal cancer with isolated lung metastasis were excluded from this study. A retrospective review of patient characteristics and factors influencing survival was performed. Survival was analyzed by the Kaplan-Meier method. Comparison between groups were performed by a log-rank analysis and the Cox proportional hazard model.
Results: The 5-year overall survival rate of all patients who received pulmonary resection was 50.3%. The number of pulmonary metastases was significantly related with survival in univariate analysis, but not in multivariate analysis (p = 0.032). Prethoracotomy carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level exceeding 5 ng/ml was related with poor survival (p = 0.001). A disease-free interval of greater than 2 years did not correlate with survival after thoracotomy (p = 0.3).
Conclusion: The prethoracotomy CEA level and the number of metastases were independent prognostic factors. Resection of pulmonary metastasis from colorectal cancer may result in improved survival or even healing in selected patients. Pulmonary resection of colorectal cancer is regarded as a safe and effective treatment with low morbidity and mortality rates.