Survival Following Liver Transplantation for Patients With Nonresectable Liver-only Colorectal Metastases

Ann Surg. 2020 Feb;271(2):212-218. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000003404.


Objective: To determine overall survival and disease-free survival in selected patients with nonresectable liver-only colorectal cancer receiving liver transplantation.

Background: Patients with nonresectable colorectal cancer receiving palliative chemotherapy has a 5-year overall survival of about 10%. Liver transplantation provided an overall survival of 60% in a previous study (SECA-I). Risk factors for death were carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) >80 μg/L, progressive disease on chemotherapy, size of largest lesion>5.5 cm, and less than 2 years from resection of the primary tumor to transplantation.

Methods: In this prospective (SECA-II) study, we included colorectal cancer patients with nonresectable liver-only metastases determined by computed tomography (CT)/magnetic resonance imaging/positron emission tomography scans and at least 10% response to chemotherapy. Time from diagnosis to liver transplant was required to be more than 1 year.

Results: At a median follow-up of 36 months, Kaplan-Meier overall survival at 1, 3, and 5 years were 100%, 83%, and 83%, respectively. Disease-free survival at 1, 2, and 3 years were 53%, 44%, and 35%, respectively. Overall survival from time of relapse at 1, 2, and 4 years were 100%, 73%, and 73%, respectively. Recurrence was mainly slow growing pulmonary metastases amenable to curative resection. Fong Clinical Risk Score of 1 to 2 at the time of diagnosis resulted in longer disease-free survival than score 3 to 4 (P = 0.044). Patients included in the present study had significantly better prognostic factors than the previous SECA-I study.

Conclusion: Liver transplantation provides the longest overall survival reported in colorectal cancer patient with nonresectable liver metastases. Improved selection criteria give patients with nonresectable colorectal liver metastases a 5-year overall survival comparable to other indications for liver transplantation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / analysis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen