Incurable Colorectal Carcinoma: The Role of Surgical Palliation

Cummins, Erin R.; Vick, Kenneth D.; Poole, Galen V.
May 2004
American Surgeon;May2004, Vol. 70 Issue 5, p433
Academic Journal
About 20 per cent of patients with carcinoma of the colon or rectum present with metastatic disease. Surgeons are frequently asked to consider resection or other operative procedures in these patients for palliation. We performed this review to determine whether patients presenting with known metastatic colorectal cancer derive benefit from surgical intervention. We performed a retrospective review of all patients with Ml carcinoma of the colon or rectum who were identified from the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Registry from April 1985 through February 2003. Patients who underwent hepatic and/or pulmonary resection with curative intent were excluded from analysis, as were patients with metachronous metastases. Eighty patients with Ml colorectal cancer who did not undergo surgery with curative intent were identified, and in 74 of these, complete medical records and follow-up were available. Forty-nine of the 74 patients (66%) underwent an operation, and 25 were managed nonoperatively. Indications for surgery included bowel obstruction, active hemorrhage, severe anemia from gastrointestinal bleeding with requirement for blood transfusions, intractable pain, and perforation of the colon. Average survival was 11.2 months for operative patients versus 6.5 months for nonoperative patients (P < 0.05). Thirty-six patients who underwent resectional procedures had a postoperative hospitalization of 7.5 days and a median survival of 11.5 months. Thirteen patients who had a nonresectional procedure had an average postoperative stay of 9 days and a median survival of 4 months. Median survival in those who did not undergo an operation was 4.8 months. Although metastatic colorectal carcinoma cannot usually be cured by surgical intervention, many patients who present with metastatic disease will benefit from palliative operations with relatively short hospitalizations and reasonable survival. Those who are not...


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