Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Liver Resection (Partial Hepatectomy)
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Colorectal cancer commonly spreads (metastasizes) to the liver. For some colorectal cancer patients who have metastatic disease in the liver, surgery to remove a portion of the liver containing the cancer may be a viable treatment option.
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), highly skilled and experienced surgical oncologists regularly perform liver resection surgery.
A liver resection, or partial hepatectomy, is a surgical procedure to remove tumors in the liver. Removing the cancerous portion of the liver may help to prevent the disease from spreading more. In some incidences, it may also help to prolong the life of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.
To perform a liver resection surgery, our surgeons make an incision below the ribcage, across the right side of the upper abdomen. An ultrasound device is used to find the liver tumor(s). The diseased portion of the liver is then removed, along with some adjoining healthy liver tissue.
This procedure can be performed as a traditional open surgical procedure or as a less invasive, laparoscopic surgical procedure. Patients who undergo an open liver resection typically stay in the hospital for about a week.
Liver Resection for Colorectal Cancer
One innovative way CTCA surgical oncologists are able to treat metastatic colorectal cancer in the liver is with laparoscopic liver resection.
To perform this procedure, your surgical oncologist makes a number of small incisions (rather than one large incision as with open liver resection). A needle is inserted to expand the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas to allow room for instruments to be inserted. Your surgical oncologist uses specialized instruments, including a small telescope with a camera attached, to visualize the abdominal cavity and to remove sections of the liver that are cancerous.
Patients who undergo laparoscopic liver resection tend to:
- Experience less pain
- Have a shorter stay in the hospital
- Recover more quickly
- Resume other treatments (e.g., chemotherapy) more quickly because they recover from surgery in less time than with open surgery
- Have less scarring/better cosmetic appearance where incisions are made
Determining if Liver Resection Surgery Is an Option
If you have metastatic colorectal cancer, your surgical oncologist at CTCA will consider a number of factors to determine if you are a candidate for liver resection surgery. These factors may include:
- The extent of the disease in the liver – Multiple tumors, large tumors and tumors in multiple lobes may be unresectable (i.e., not able to be removed by surgery).
- The extent of the surgery needed – A significant enough portion of the liver that is healthy must remain in order for the organ to function properly.
- Tumors near blood vessels in the liver – These tumors may be unresectable. Other treatments such as radiofrequency ablation, chemoembolization or intra-arterial chemotherapy may be options for treating liver tumors near blood vessels.
- Cirrhosis – Patients with this condition usually can not tolerate liver resection.
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