Author(s): Figueras J
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether adjuvant therapy can improve survival after curative resection of colorectal liver metastases.
METHODS: Some 235 patients had 256 liver resections for metastatic colorectal cancer. There were no predefined criteria for resectability with regard either to the number or size of the tumours or to locoregional invasion, except that resection had potentially to be complete and macroscopically curative. All patients who had curative hepatic resection were advised to start postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy.
RESULTS: The resectability rate in screened patients was 91 per cent (235 of 259 patients); the postoperative mortality rate was 4 per cent. In 35 patients resection of the primary tumour was performed simultaneously with partial liver resection. Forty-four patients (19 per cent) developed intra-abdominal recurrence; 14 (6 per cent) underwent reoperation and the recurrent tumour was resected. Adjuvant chemotherapy was given to 99 patients (55 per cent), most treatments being based on 5-fluorouracil with folinic acid. The overall actuarial survival rates at 1, 3 and 5 years were 87, 60 and 36 per cent respectively. In a multivariate analysis, four or more metastases, preoperative carcinoembryonic antigen level higher than 5 ng/ml and a positive resection margin were independent predictors of poor outcome. Adjuvant chemotherapy improved the 5-year survival rate to 53 per cent.
CONCLUSION: This study provides some evidence that postoperative chemotherapy is beneficial; however, prospective randomized studies are necessary to define its exact role.