1. Department of Hematology, Oncology, & Palliative Care, Asklepios Hospital Barmbek, Semmelweis University of Medicine, Asklepios Campus Hamburg, Germany.
2. Department of Surgery & Medical-Surgical Specialities, General & Oncologic Surgery Unit, Vittorio-Emanuele University Hospital, University of Catania, Italy.
3. Department of Hematology & Oncology, Asklepios Hospital Altona, Semmelweis University of Medicine, Asklepios Campus Hamburg, Germany;
4. Department of General & Abdominal Surgery, Asklepios Hospital Barmbek, Semmelweis University of Medicine, Asklepios Campus, Germany.
Background: Most patients undergoing radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of colorectal liver metastasases (CLM) develop disease recurrence, but little is known about the effect of recurrence patterns and/or systemic therapy on outcome. In this study, we examined the recurrence patterns and survival after systemic therapy plus RFA in patients with unresectable CLM without extrahepatic disease. The aims were to analyze the effect of recurrence patterns on survival and to assess the relative benefit contributed by systemic therapy and local ablation to disease control and patient outcome.
Methods: From January 2002 to December 2012, 113 patients underwent RFA of liver-limited CLM after systemic therapy. Univariate and multivariate analyses for associations between clinical and/or treatment-related variables, recurrence-free survival (RFS), recurrence patterns, and overall survival (OS) were carried out.
Results: Of 113 patients, 105 (92.8%) had disease recurrence (median RFS: 6.1 months). Lower post-recurrence OS was observed after early (≤6 months) than after late recurrence (8.5 versus 24.0 months, p < 0.001). Recurrence sites were RFA-sites only (4.8%), liver-only (57.1%), lung-only (10.5%), or multiple (27.6%); the corresponding post-recurrence OS was 21, 19, 39, and 7 months (p < 0.001), respectively. Response to pre-RFA systemic therapy was the strongest predictor for OS (hazard ratio [HR] 5.28), RFS (HR 3.30), early (odds ratio [OR] 6.34) and multiple-site recurrence (OR 3.83) (p < 0.01), respectively; only responders achieved 5-year OS and RFS (29% and 12% versus 0% and 0% for non-responders, p < 0.001, respectively).
Conclusions: Survival after RFA for liver-limited CLM is strongly linked to the timing and pattern of non-local disease recurrence. Local ablation efficacy is necessary but not sufficient to obtain long-term disease control. Effective pre-RFA systemic therapy does favourably affect the incidence, timing and patterns of recurrence and long-term survival and appears essential for the tailoring of RFA application to maximize patient benefit.
Keywords: Colorectal cancer, metastases, radiofrequency ablation, recurrence, survival.