Primary Liver

Metastatic Liver

Colorectal liver

liver metastases


Colorectal liver metastases


Colorectal (colon and rectum, or entire large bowel) cancer is the fourth most common malignancy, behind cancers of the lung, breast and prostate. Worldwide, colorectal cancer strikes approximately 850,000 people each year and accounts for over 500,000 annual deaths. Up to 70% of patients with colorectal cancer eventually develop liver metastases. In 30-40% of those patients with metastases, it is still confined to the liver at the time of metastatic diagnosis. Of the patients with colorectal metastases confined to the liver, only 25% are surgical candidates due to size, distribution or accessibility of the tumor(s).

Promising developments in minimally invasive intervention, however, do offer local treatment options for patients with unresectable liver metastases confined to the liver. This is the focus of this web site.


By definition, patients with metastatic disease have advanced stage disease. Surgical resection is now a widely accepted treatment for colorectal metastases to the liver. Five-year survival rates are consistently reported between 20% and 35% for patients whose cancer is confined to the liver and is surgically accessible. By contrast, patients with similar disease who could not tolerate surgery, and did not receive any other treatment except systemic chemotherapy, rarely survived for five years.

Neuroendocrine liver metastases

Neuroendocrine tumors are slow growing tumors that are most often discovered when they have multiple metastatic deposits within the liver, or outside the liver (extrahepatic), making them unresectable. Because of hormone secretion, these patients experience higher death rates.

Even though few patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors are appropriate for resection, significant symptom relief can be accomplished by treatments intended to reduce, if not eliminate, the tumor. Treatment options include hepatic artery ligation and chemoembolization to limit the sustaining blood supply to the tumor(s) as well as local ablation techniques including radiofrequency ablation, alcohol injection and cryotherapy.

However, in patients with resectable disease, resection may delay the most debilitating symptoms for several years. A 1996 study reported five-year survival rates of 79%, with 52% of these patients not experiencing any recurrence during this period.

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