Bowel resection followed by chemotherapy is a better management strategy than immediate chemotherapy in asymptomatic patients with colorectal cancer and unresectable liver-only metastases at presentation.
Sixty-five consecutive symptom-free colorectal cancer patients with unresectable synchronous metastases confined to the liver undergoing bowel tumor resection plus systemic chemotherapy (42 patients [resection group]) or chemotherapy first (23 patients [chemotherapy group]).
Main Outcome Measures
Long-term survival and identification of prognostic indicators of outcome.
In the resection group, the mean and median overall survival times were shown to be significantly better than those in the chemotherapy group (P = .03). Performance status, basal serum levels of lactic dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase, percentage of liver involvement, potentially curative resection of the bowel tumor, and type of treatment (resection vs chemotherapy) were demonstrated to be the only variables significantly correlated with long-term survival. On multivariate analysis, performance status, extent of liver involvement, and type of treatment were shown to be the only covariates independently associated with survival rate. The rate of liver metastasis downstaging with subsequent curative hepatic resection was clearly associated with good performance status, limited liver involvement, and resection of the bowel tumor.
Achieving complete cure in asymptomatic colorectal cancer patients with unresectable synchronous liver-only metastases appears to be mostly the result of shrinkage and resection of hepatic metastases. In patients with good performance status and limited liver involvement, bowel tumor resection appears to be the best treatment option for this purpose.