Regional treatment of hepatic metastases and hepatocellular carcinoma

Curr Probl Cancer. 1989 Jul-Aug;13(4):197-283. doi: 10.1016/0147-0272(89)90007-x.


Hepatic metastases represent a common site of dissemination for a number of primary malignancies related in part to the dual blood supply, large blood flow, and receptive environment of the hepatic parenchyma. Although this review focuses on regional therapy, we have included sections on systemic therapy to better interpret the results with intrahepatic therapy. We will also discuss the efficiency of hepatic arterial ligation, embolization, and radiotherapy of hepatic metastases. Primary gastrointestinal neoplasms are particularly prone to produce hepatic metastases. Because colorectal carcinoma metastasizes to the liver in up to 70% of patients with advanced disease, the treatment of hepatic metastases is a relevant topic. We will discuss the systemic and regional therapy of colorectal, gastric, and gallbladder cancers. Breast carcinoma and malignant melanoma frequently metastasize to the liver, and we have described systemic and regional treatments of these diseases. Because sarcomas are often treated by regional therapy, we have included a section on the treatment of hepatic sarcomas. Neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoid and islet cell), although often slow growing, frequently metastasize to the liver and then cause symptomatic problems. Much of the work done with embolization and hepatic ligation in the treatment of hepatic metastases has been performed in neuroendocrine tumors, and these studies, as well as the systemic and regional chemotherapy of hepatic metastases, will be described. The last section concerns the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma. We have outlined the staging systems used. We then detail the results of systemic and intrahepatic therapy, embolization, and hepatic ligation in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma. Because hepatic metastases are a frequent problem, many patients are available for clinical investigation. It is hoped that newer strategies for the treatment of liver metastases will lead to higher response rates and perhaps control of local disease. These therapeutic approaches may also give us leads to the treatment of systemic disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Cancer, Regional Perfusion
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / therapy


  • Antineoplastic Agents