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Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview


Treatment of Hepatic Metastases

The management of hepatic metastases may include surgical resection; hepatic artery embolization; cryoablation and radiofrequency ablation (RFA); and orthotopic liver transplantation.[1] In one large review of 120 carcinoid patients, a biochemical response rate of 96% and a 5-year survival rate of 61% were reported for patients whose hepatic metastases were resected surgically.[22] The 5-year survival rate without surgical therapy is approximately 30%.[4] For hepatic artery embolization, the most frequently used single agent is gelatin powder; and, in more than 60 patients with carcinoid tumors, the use of gelatin powder resulted in 34% and 42% of patients achieving biochemical and tumor-diminution responses, respectively.[23,24,25] Trials using transcatheter arterial occlusion with chemoembolization have also been performed, with the most thoroughly researched combination involving hepatic artery ligation with gelatin foam and doxorubicin (4 trials and 66 patients), resulting in biochemical responses in 71% of patients and tumor regression in approximately 50% of patients.[1] However, the duration of response can be short lived after embolization, and embolization may be associated with adverse effects that range from transient symptoms (e.g., pain, nausea, fever, and fatigue), which occur in 30% to 70% of patients, to liver enzyme abnormalities, which occur in as many as 100% of patients (i.e., transaminitis and postembolization syndrome), to florid and potentially lethal carcinoid crisis with massive release of vasoactive substances.[4]

In one prospective trial, 80 RFA sessions were performed in 63 patients with neuroendocrine hepatic metastases (including 36 carcinoids), and 92% of the patients reported at least partial symptom relief. In the same 63 patients, 70% had significant or complete relief at 1 week postoperatively, with a perioperative morbidity of 5%; duration of symptom control was 11 ± 2.3 months, and median survival time was 3.9 years after the first RFA.[26] There are few trials of cryoablation of hepatic metastases, and the results of liver transplantation for metastatic disease are disappointing, reflecting the typically advanced disease states of transplant recipients.[1]

Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

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