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World J Hepatol. 2019 Feb 27;11(2):150-172. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v11.i2.150.

Colorectal liver metastases: An update on multidisciplinary approach.

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Department of Surgery, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, China.
Department of Surgery and State Key Laboratory for Liver Research, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


Liver metastasis is the commonest form of distant metastasis in colorectal cancer. Selection criteria for surgery and liver-directed therapies have recently been extended. However, resectability remains poorly defined. Tumour biology is increasingly recognized as an important prognostic factor; hence molecular profiling has a growing role in risk stratification and management planning. Surgical resection is the only treatment modality for curative intent. The most appropriate surgical approach is yet to be established. The primary cancer and the hepatic metastasis can be removed simultaneously or in a two-step approach; these two strategies have comparable long-term outcomes. For patients with a limited future liver remnant, portal vein embolization, combined ablation and resection, and associating liver partition and portal vein ligation for staged hepatectomy have been advocated, and each has their pros and cons. The role of neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy is still debated. Targeted biological agents and loco-regional therapies (thermal ablation, intra-arterial chemo- or radio-embolization, and stereotactic radiotherapy) further improve the already favourable results. The recent debate about offering liver transplantation to highly selected patients needs validation from large clinical trials. Evidence-based protocols are missing, and therefore optimal management of hepatic metastasis should be personalized and determined by a multi-disciplinary team.


Adjuvant chemotherapy; Colorectal cancer; Hepatic resection; Intra-arterial therapy; Liver metastases; Multidisciplinary approach; Neoadjuvant therapy; Precision medicine

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Conflict-of-interest statement: None of the authors has any conflict of interest.

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