colorectal liver metastases

In the UK, colorectal liver metastases are the most common. They are caused by cancer spreading from the colon and rectum. The possibility of surgical treatment depends on the tumour distribution and relation with major vascular structures. However using today’s operative criteria, we have been able to push boundaries and offer surgical resection to almost 50% of patients. 
Today we can potentially treat patients with disease in both lobes of the liver and even in the presence of a large number of metastasis. However all patients have to be  assessed individually  and their suitability for an operation should be discussed in multidisciplinary meetings. In addition, thanks to the liver’s ability to regenerate, further surgery could still be considered should a patient experience recurrence of a cancer in the future.

Thanks to these advances over the years survival in patients with colorectal liver metastases   has improved greatly. Post surgical survival depends on factors related to tumour aggressiveness and biology. A combination of surgery and chemotherapy is known to offer the best results. Chemotherapy can be given prior to surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy), after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) or can be used in a sandwich treatment (before and after). The best course of action would be discussed in a meeting with consultants from different specialities called a Multi-Disciplinary Team Meeting or MDT.

In major liver centres, mortality should not exceed 3%. Hence, this surgery should only be considered in specialized centres and by expert liver surgeons.  Patients not deemed suitable for liver resection, can benefit from other treatment s such as radiofrequency ablation and palliative chemotherapy.

Conditions explained

Conditions explained

Use our handy guide to medical terminology to help demystify your treatment.

Find out more