Posted on February 5th, 2009 by
The liver is one of the most common sites in the body to which colorectal cancer spreads. Currently, there are several options for treating liver metastasis, many of which provide therapy directly to the liver. Research continues to compare different treatment strategies for liver metastases. It does appear, however, that surgery provides the best survival benefits.
Not all patients with liver metastases are eligible for surgery. For example, patients may not be eligible if their cancer is growing close to or is attached to a main artery or is found in several sites within the liver. In addition, patients must be physically able to undergo the surgical procedure. Long-term data that includes colorectal cancer patients with liver metastases who undergo surgery are necessary to better understand the effectiveness of this treatment approach.
Researchers from the United States and Austria recently evaluated long-term data from patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer who had liver metastasis.1 Data review included 612 patients who underwent surgery to remove their liver metastases between 1985 and 1994.
There is no standard treatment approach for patients who experience a second cancer recurrence in the liver following surgery for liver metastasis.
Researchers from France recently conducted a study to evaluate data including 40 patients with colorectal cancer who underwent two surgeries for liver metastasis from colorectal cancer.2 The researchers evaluated both short- and long-term results and identified factors that might help determine which subgroups of patients may experience better outcomes with a second surgery.
The researchers concluded: “A second liver resection because of recurrent liver metastases from colorectal cancer is safe and provides a survival benefit similar to that with single hepatectomy. Our analysis suggests that the benefit of treatment is limited in patients who undergo a second hepatectomy within 1 year of the first operation…. Repeat liver resection because of recurrent colorectal liver metastases can provide survival benefit with a low rate of complications.”
Patients with colorectal cancer who have liver metastases may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of surgery. As well, patients with this disease who have already undergone surgery for liver metastases and have experienced a recurrence in the liver appear to benefit from a second surgery. These results are encouraging and may change the outlook for colorectal cancer patients with liver metastasis.
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