The management of the advanced colorectal cancer: management of the pulmonary metastases
Pulmonary metastases from colorectal cancer present as systemic manifestation of the disease. As a general principle, the presence of metastases predispose to a poor prognosis. However, the application of some criteria of “operability” permitted the surgical resection resulting in prolonged survival (reported 5-year survival up to 50%), in better quality of life and in the cure of some patients. When the primary tumor site is controlled, and the metastatic disease is limited in lungs without extrapulmonary location (except for resectable or resected hepatic lesion) surgical removal is indicated. As significant prognostic factors in metastasectomies have been reported the synchronous or metachronous caracter of the metastases, the disease free survival, the complete removal of the metastases, the thoracic lymph node invasion, the CEA level before metastasectomy and 1 month after, the solitary vs. multiple pulmonary metastatic locations, the induction chemotherapy, the histological type and differentiation grade, as well as the vascular emboli in histopathological examination. Thorough preoperative evaluation of the patient includes oncological assessment and respiratory functional tests. Alternatively, when the patient is not a good surgical candidate, radiofrequency ablation is an option. Many surgical accesses have been validated, as posterolateral or lateral or even posterior thoracotomy, sternotomy, clamshell incision, and thoracoscopic techniques that offer the advantages of less pain, fast recovery, and less morbidity. Though thoracoscopic metastasectomies have been questioned concerning to the completeness of metastatic removal, no statistical difference in survival has been revealed in many series comparing thoracotomy to thoracoscopic techniques. As a conclusion, there are many advances in the management of pulmonary metastases from colorectal cancer during last decade, the results have been essentially optimized, the role of surgery has been established, and the multimodality approach has been recognized as the cornerstone of a successful outcome.