Original Article

Pulmonary laser-assisted metastasectomy is associated with prolonged survival in patients with colorectal cancer

Isabelle Moneke, Friederike Funcke, Severin Schmid, Thomas Osei-Agyemang, Bernward Passlick


Background: Pulmonary metastases develop in 10–15% of patients with colorectal cancer. Surgical metastasectomy currently provides the only hope for a cure for these patients. The aim of this study was to analyze the expanding role of pulmonary metastasectomy in the context of laser-assisted surgery (LAS) vs. non-laser-assisted surgery (NLAS).
Methods: We performed a single-center retrospective analysis of 204 patients who underwent curative pulmonary metastasectomy for colorectal cancer between 01/2005 and 12/2016. The main endpoint was survival. The Kaplan-Meier method was applied for statistical analysis and survival rates were compared with the log rank test.
Results: Median follow-up was 53 months. A total of 267 metastases were resected in 154 operations in the NLAS group (median: 1) vs. 438 metastases in 122 operations in the LAS group (median: 5; P<0.0001). The interval between treatment of the primary tumor and the first pulmonary metastasectomy was significantly shorter in the LAS group (19 vs. 32 months; P=0.008). Anatomical resections were significantly reduced using LAS, 8% vs. 23% respectively. Despite more negative predictors in the LAS group, there was no statistically significant difference in overall disease-specific 5-year survival (70% LAS vs. 58% NLAS; P=0.18).
Conclusions: Survival after pulmonary metastasectomy has previously been shown to correlate with a low number of metastases and a longer disease-free interval. However, with the tissue-saving LAS technique complete resectability can be achieved in patients with more metastases and long-term survival is possible for selected patients.

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