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Ann Surg Oncol. 2007 Feb;14(2):766-70. Epub 2006 Nov 14.

Asymptomatic colorectal cancer with un-resectable liver metastases: immediate colorectal resection or up-front systemic chemotherapy?

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Division of Surgical Oncology, Istituto per la Ricerca e la Cura del Cancro, Candiolo (TO), Italy.



About 20% of patients with colorectal cancer have synchronous un-resectable liver metastases. Resection of colorectal cancer in patients with moderate-severe symptoms is mandatory before starting chemotherapy. Surgical treatment of asymptomatic colorectal cancers is still a matter of discussion.


From January 2000 to December 2004, we prospectively collected data on 35 consecutive patients who were treated straightaway by chemotherapy without primary tumor resection. All patients underwent FOLFOX6 as first-line chemotherapy. The aim of the study was to evaluate the rate of surgical complications related to un-resected colorectal tumor.


The mean interval between diagnosis and start of chemotherapy was 23.1 days (95% CI: 17.3-28.8). Fifteen of the 35 patients (42.9%) were down-staged to surgery; the mean interval between chemotherapy start and colon-rectum cancer resection was 6.5 months (95% CI: 5.5-7.5). None of them developed complications related to the primary tumor during chemotherapy. Of the other 20 patients who did not undergo any curative surgery, 16 received a second line chemotherapy and 10 a third line: six patients are alive and without intestinal symptoms (mean follow up 22.5 months, 95% CI: 11.2-33.9). Only one patient (2.8%) developed clinical signs of intestinal occlusion 5.6 months from the start of chemotherapy and required urgent colostomy.


The rate of complications related to the non-resected colorectal tumor is very low using oxaliplatin as first line chemotherapy. Non-operative management of asymptomatic colorectal cancers with un-resectable liver metastases is a safe approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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