Neoadjuvant chemotherapy before liver resection for patients with unresectable liver metastases from colorectal carcinoma
Colorectal carcinoma is one of the most common cancers in the world, and more than 50% of these patients develop liver metastases. Despite recent advances, systemic chemotherapy for metastatic disease without the use of surgery is considered palliative, as there are rarely long-term survivors. However, patients who are candidates for surgical resection of their liver metastases can have a prolonged survival or possibly a cure. Consensus guidelines on criteria for resection and prognostic scores help facilitate patient selection, yet only 25% of patients with liver metastases are considered to have resectable metastases. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has been explored in an attempt to render more patients candidates for resection. First reports using neoadjuvant systemic chemotherapy in patients with unresectable disease found that 13% to 16% of patients could be rendered resectable. Efforts to increase response rates using hepatic arterial infusion or biologic agents may increase resection rates. This review summarizes the current data on neoadjuvant chemotherapy, the rationale for this approach, potential complications, and future prospects.