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Original Investigation
March 31, 2021

Survival Outcomes After Portal Vein Embolization and Liver Resection Compared With Liver Transplant for Patients With Extensive Colorectal Cancer Liver Metastases

Author Affiliations
  • 1Experimental Transplantation and Malignancy Research Group, Division of Surgery, Inflammatory Diseases and Transplantation, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  • 2Section for Transplantation Surgery, Department of Transplantation Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  • 3Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  • 4Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 5Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
JAMA Surg. Published online March 31, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2021.0267
Key Points

Question  Which treatment modality—liver transplant or portal vein embolization followed by liver resection—yields the longest overall survival among patients with colorectal cancer and extensive liver tumor load?

Findings  This comparative effectiveness research study of 50 patients with colorectal cancer and widespread liver metastases who underwent liver transplant and 53 matched patients who underwent portal vein embolization and liver resection found that overall survival among patients with left-sided primary tumor and liver grafts exceeded overall survival among those treated with portal vein embolization and liver resection.

Meaning  Highly selected patients with colorectal cancer and nonresectable liver metastases may be considered for liver transplant in prospective studies.

Abstract

Importance  Portal vein embolization (PVE) has been implemented in patients with extensive colorectal liver metastases to increase the number of patients able to undergo liver resection. Liver transplant could be an alternative in selected patients with extensive liver-only disease, and we have recently shown promising survival outcomes.

Objective  To compare overall survival (OS) among patients with colorectal cancer and high liver metastasis tumor load who were treated with liver transplant or with PVE and liver resection.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This comparative effectiveness research study assessed 50 patients with colorectal cancer liver metastases who were previously enrolled in liver transplant studies between November 2006 and August 2019 at Oslo University Hospital in Norway. Those patients were compared with a retrospective cohort of 53 patients in the Oslo University Hospital PVE database from March 2006 through November 2015 with similar selection criteria who underwent PVE and liver resection.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The OS among patients with high tumor load after liver transplant was compared with that among patients with high tumor load who underwent PVE and liver resection. High tumor load was defined as 9 or more metastatic tumors or a diameter of 5.5 cm or longer for the largest liver lesion.

Results  In the PVE cohort of 53 patients, the median age was 61.8 years (range, 34.3-71.3 years), and 36 patients (68%) were men. The 5-year OS rate among 38 patients who underwent liver resection after PVE was 44.6%. The 5-year OS rate for patients with high tumor load was 33.4% for those who underwent liver transplant and 6.7% for those who underwent PVE. Among patients with high tumor load and left-sided primary tumors, the 5-year OS rate was 45.3% for those receiving a liver allograft and 12.5% for those treated with PVE and liver resection.

Conclusions and Relevance  Patients with nonresectable disease, an extensive liver tumor load, and left-sided primary tumors had long OS after liver transplant, exceeding the survival outcome for those patients treated with PVE and liver resection.

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