Palliative Resection Associated With Improved Survival in mCRC

Virginia Powers, PhD
Published: Saturday, Jun 28, 2014

World GI CongressIn patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) receiving palliative care, initial treatment with surgical resection of the primary tumor followed by systemic treatment yielded a 4.7-month overall survival (OS) benefit compared with the same treatments administered in the reverse order, according to a retrospective analysis presented at the ESMO 16th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer.

Overall, the analysis showed vast differences in OS based on initial treatment in patients presenting with stage IV mCRC, with local curative treatment faring the best, according to lead author Jorine ’t Lam-Boer, MS, Department of Surgery, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

According to ’t Lam-Boer, controversy remains as to the benefit of surgical resection of the primary tumor prior to treatment in stage IV colorectal cancer. Some studies have shown an extension of OS but these positive data are offset by reports of morbidity and mortality following surgery. Further, all the available data are from retrospective studies.

’t Lam-Boer et al’s retrospective, population-based study used data from patients presenting with stage IV colorectal cancer enrolled in the Netherlands National Cancer Registries database from 2008 to 2011. Patients were stratified according to treatment received: curative treatment, palliative treatment, or best supportive care (BSC). The group receiving palliative care was further divided according to whether the first treatment administered involved resection of the primary tumor or systemic therapy.

A total of 10,593 patients were identified by the researchers; however, 2360 patients did not meet the inclusion criteria and were excluded from the study. Among the remaining 8233 patients, 1510 (18.3%) received local curative treatment for metastasis and 2304 patients (28%) received BSC only. The median OS for patients receiving local curative treatment was 43.7 months compared with 2.1 months in patients receiving BSC.

Among patients in the palliative treatment group, 1908 (23.2%) were initially treated with resection of the primary tumor, which was followed by systemic therapy in 949 patients (49.7%). The remaining 2511 patients in the palliative group initially received systemic treatment, followed by resection of the primary tumor in 145 patients (5.8%).

Multivariate analysis showed that primary resection was done more often in patients aged <75 years, patients with colon cancer, and patients with one site of metastasis.

OS was significantly improved in the group of patients initially treated with resection compared with those initially treated with systemic therapy: 16.6 months versus 11.9 months, respectively.  

Cox regression analysis demonstrated that resection was independently associated with improved OS (HR = 0.38; 95% CI, 0.34-0.43).

In an interview with OncLive, invited discussant Thomas Seufferlein, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, Universitätsklinikum Ulm, Germany, discussed the relevance of these results to clinical practice and the role of surgical resection in stage IV disease.

“That’s exactly the tricky point—should the primary tumor be resected in stage IV disease? There are retrospective data suggesting, ‘yes,’ but these data are seriously biased, in my opinion. The data from this analysis also suggest support for resection, but they are also retrospective data. Therefore, prospective data are really needed to resolve this question.”

No external funding was reported.


’t Lam-Boer J, et al. Palliative resection of the primary tumour is associated with increased survival in patients with synchronous metastatic colorectal cancer: a nationwide population-based study from The Netherlands. Presented at: ESMO 16th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer; June 25-28, 2014; Barcelona, Spain. Abstract O-0014.

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