, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 195-202
Date: 03 Oct 2012

Colorectal Liver Metastases



With modern multimodality therapy, patients with resected colorectal cancer (CRC) liver metastases (CLM) can experience up to 50–60 % 5-year survival. These improved outcomes have become more commonplace via achievements in multidisciplinary care, improved definition of resectability, and advances in technical skill.


Even patients with synchronous and/or extensive bilateral disease have benefited from novel surgical strategies. Treatment sequencing of synchronous CRC with CLM can be simplified into the following three paradigms: (classic colorectal-first), simultaneous (combined), or reverse approach (liver-first). The decision of whether to treat the CLM or CRC first depends on which site dominates oncologically and symptomatically. Oxaliplatin with 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin (FOLFOX) and irinotecan with 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin (FOLFIRI) are the foundations of modern chemotherapy. Although each regimen has positively impacted survivals, both have the potential for negative effects on the non-tumor liver. Oxaliplatin is associated with vascular injury (sinusoidal ballooning, microvascular injury, nodular regenerative hyperplasia, and long-term fibrosis) but not steatosis. Irinotecan has been associated with steatohepatitis, especially in patients with obesity and diabetes. Steatohepatitis from irinotecan is the only chemotherapy-associated liver injury (CALI) associated with increased mortality from postoperative hepatic insufficiency. Extended duration of preoperative chemotherapy is also associated with CALI.


To determine resectability and to prevent overtreatment with systemic therapy, all patients should receive high-quality cross-sectional imaging and be evaluated by a hepatobiliary surgeon before starting chemotherapy. Even as chemotherapy improves, liver surgeons will continue to play a central role in treatment planning by offering the best chance for prolonged survival—safe R0 resection with curative intent.