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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Survival, disease-free interval, and associated tumor features in patients with colon/rectal carcinomas and their resected intra-pulmonary metastases

S Zink, G Kayser, H J Gabius, K Kayser
European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery 2001, 19 (6): 908-13
11404151

OBJECTIVE: Colon/rectum cancer often presents with intrapulmonary metastases. Surgical resection can be performed in a selected group of patients. In this study, the search for possible prognostic factors of patients with primary colon/rectum cancer and lung metastases was performed.

METHODS: Medical records of 110 patients operated on pulmonary metastases of primary colon/rectum cancer were reviewed. The clinical parameters include age, sex, pTNM/UICC stage, grading, localization, surgical and adjuvant therapy of the primary cancer. The number, maximum diameter and total intra-thoracic resected tumor-mass ('load'), the pre-thoracotomy serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels, localization of the metastases (uni- vs. bilateral), the presence of hilar/mediastinal tumor-infiltrated lymph nodes, the surgical procedure and performed therapy schemes of lung metastases were recorded.

RESULTS: The cumulated 5- and 10-year total survival after diagnosis of the primary carcinomas was estimated to 71 and 33.7%, respectively. After resection of the pulmonary metastases, the 3- and 5-year post-thoracotomy survival measured 57 and 32.6%, respectively. The median time interval between diagnosis of the primary cancer and thoracotomy (disease free interval (DFI)) was found to be 35 months. A non-negligible percentage of patients (15.4%) displayed limited tumor stages of the primary cancer (pT1/2, pN0). The median diameter of the largest metastasis measured 28 mm, and the median resected intrathoracic tumor-load was calculated to 11.4 cm(3). In only 8 patients hilar or mediastinal tumor-involved lymph nodes were found. A potentially curative resection of lung metastases was recorded in 96 patients. The overall survival was significantly correlated with the DFI and the number of intrapulmonary metastases. The DFI correlated significantly with the tumor load and the number of metastases; the post-thoracotomy survival with the number of metastases, tumor-load and pre-thoracotomy serum CEA level. Treatment, stage and grade of the primary cancer, occurrence of liver metastases and local recurrences, mode of treatment of metastases and postoperative residual stage had no significant correlation with either total nor post-thoracotomy survival.

CONCLUSIONS: Pulmonary metastases occur even in patients with limited tumor-stages of primary colon/rectum cancer. DFI is the major parameter to estimate the total survival of patients with lung metastases. The survival after thoracotomy depends on the number of metastases, the intrapulmonary tumor load and the presence of elevated serum CEA level prior to thoracotomy.

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