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Minerva Medica 2006 February;97(1):107-19


language: Italian

Treatment of colorectal cancer liver metastases

Derenzini E., Di Battista M., Di Marco M. C., Dell’Arte S., Astorino M., Bertolini S., Brandi G., Biasco G.

Istituto di Ematologia e Oncologia Medica «L e A Seragnoli», Policlinico S.Orsola-Malpighi Università di Bologna, Bologna


Liver is the main target for colorectal cancer (CRC) metastases. About 50% of all patients affected by CRC develop liver metastases. Surgery remains the only potentially curative strategy, and indications to surgery and resectability criteria are now less restrictive than before so that a more aggressive attitude in the treatment of metastatic lesions is the rule. However surgery is not possible in the majority of patients. For non resectable patients two options are available: local treatment strategies (Radio-frequency ablation and Criosurgery: alone or in combination with surgery) and chemotherapy. High rates of objective response achieved with Fluoropyrimidines, Oxaliplatin (OHP) and Irinotecan (CPT-11) based chemo-therapy, enable initially unresectable patients to undergo surgery, with a 5-year survival rate comparable to that observed for primary resectable patients. Therefore chemotherapy has not only a palliative aim, but becomes a fundamental moment of a combined medical and surgical treatment with curative purpose. After surgery two-thirds of patients will relapse in first two years, so that adjuvant therapy has been investigated to reduce recurrence rates, mainly testing hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) schedules. So far no randomized trials have been published on the role of systemic intravenous adjuvant chemo-therapy. Finally we report the results of our monoinstitutional experience, suggesting a possible role of systemic adjuvant chemotherapy in reducing recurrence rates after liver metastasectomy. Probably in the next years new targeted drugs and locoregional therapies will contribute to further improuve prognosis of such patients, in a neoadjuvant, adjuvant and palliative setting.

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