Purpose: A major problem in treating patients with peritoneal spread from colorectal cancer is that at diagnosis wide peritoneal involvement often precludes all curative attempts. A possible solution is to identify those patients at risk for peritoneal metastases and intervene early to prevent locoregional disease spread before it develops and, thus, to improve outcome.
Methods: We analyzed long-term results from a previous study and compared outcomes in 25 patients with advanced colon cancer considered at high risk for peritoneal spread (pT3/pT4 and mucinous or signet ring cell histology) prospectively included and managed with a proactive surgical approach including target organ resection for peritoneal spread plus hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) and in 50 retrospectively well-matched controls who underwent standard surgical resection during the same period and in the same hospital by different surgical teams.
Results: At 48 months after the study closed, peritoneal metastases and local recurrence developed significantly less often in proactively managed patients than in controls (4 vs 28%) (p < 0.03). Patients in the proactive group also survived longer than control patients (median overall survival 59.5 vs 52 months). Despite similar morbidity, Kaplan-Meier survival curves disclosed significantly longer disease-free and overall survival in the proactive than in the control group (p < 0.05 and <0.04).
Conclusions: In patients with advanced colon cancer at risk for peritoneal recurrence, the proactive surgical approach plus HIPEC seems to achieve good locoregional control preventing peritoneal spread thus improving outcome without increasing morbidity. These advantages merit investigation in a multicentric randomized trial.