Hepatic metastasis from colorectal cancer

J Gastrointest Oncol. 2019 Dec;10(6):1274-1298. doi: 10.21037/jgo.2019.08.06.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancers in the world. About two third of patients with CRC will develop distant recurrence at some point in time. Liver is the most common site where distant metastasis takes place. While the overall survival (OS) of patients with metastatic CRC was poor about 3 decades ago, there has been tremendous improvement in this area in the recent years. With the advent of effective systemic chemotherapy and biologic agents and better understanding of the biological behaviour of the tumour, aggressive treatment strategies such as metastatectomy of the liver metastases (or lung metastases) are now acceptable. More importantly, it has transformed the way how stage IV CRCs are being managed. From predominantly palliative as the primary aim, a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach is now the mainstay of treatment with very successful outcomes. Combination of systemic therapies with liver resection has been shown to be effective in providing promising survival benefits. In addition, other adjunctive modalities in targeting the liver metastases such as ablation, combining resection and ablation, transarterial chemoembolization, stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), hepatic artery perfusion, etc. have also been demonstrated variable outcome in treating colorectal liver metastasis (CRLM). Very recently, transplant oncologists have also explored using liver transplantation as a treatment modality for unresectable CRLM, which has demonstrated very good long-term survival in well selected cases. The new paradigm in the treatment of metastatic CRC has dawned.

Keywords: Colorectal liver metastasis (CRLM); liver resection; liver targeted therapy; liver transplantation; systemic chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review