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Colon Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage IV and Recurrent Colon Cancer Treatment


Neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Patients with hepatic metastases that are deemed unresectable will occasionally become candidates for resection if they have a good response to chemotherapy. These patients have 5-year survival rates similar to patients who initially had resectable disease.[17]

Local ablation

Radiofrequency ablation has emerged as a safe technique (2% major morbidity and <1% mortality rate) that may provide for long-term tumor control.[18,19,20,21,22,23,24] Radiofrequency ablation and cryosurgical ablation [25,26,27,28] remain options for patients with tumors that cannot be resected and for patients who are not candidates for liver resection.

Other local ablative techniques that have been used to manage liver metastases include embolization and interstitial radiation therapy.[29,30] Patients with limited pulmonary metastases, and patients with both pulmonary and hepatic metastases, may also be considered for surgical resection, with 5-year survival possible in highly-selected patients.[12,31,32]

Adjuvant chemotherapy

The role of adjuvant chemotherapy after potentially curative resection of liver metastases is uncertain.

Evidence (adjuvant chemotherapy):

  1. A trial of hepatic arterial floxuridine and dexamethasone plus systemic fluorouracil (5-FU) and leucovorin compared with systemic 5-FU plus leucovorin alone showed improved 2-year progression-free survival (PFS) (57% vs. 42%, P = .07) and overall survival (OS) (86% vs. 72%, P = .03) but did not show a significant statistical difference in median survival, compared with systemic 5-FU therapy alone.
    • Median survival in the combined therapy arm was 72.2 months versus 59.3 months in the monotherapy arm (P = .21).[33][Level of evidence: 1iiA]
  2. A second trial preoperatively randomly assigned 109 patients who had one to three potentially resectable colorectal hepatic metastases to either no further therapy or postoperative hepatic arterial floxuridine plus systemic 5-FU.[34] Of those randomly assigned patients, 27% were deemed ineligible at the time of surgery, which left only 75 patients evaluable for recurrence and survival.
    • While liver recurrence was decreased, median or 4-year survival was not significantly different.

Further studies are required to evaluate this treatment approach and to determine if more effective systemic combination chemotherapy alone may provide similar results compared with hepatic intra-arterial therapy plus systemic treatment.

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