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01.12.2019 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

World Journal of Surgical Oncology 1/2019

Synchronous and metachronous liver metastases in patients with colorectal cancer—towards a clinically relevant definition

World Journal of Surgical Oncology > Ausgabe 1/2019
Jennie Engstrand, Cecilia Strömberg, Henrik Nilsson, Jacob Freedman, Eduard Jonas
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Approximately 25% of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) will have liver metastases classified as synchronous or metachronous. There is no consensus on the defining time point for synchronous/metachronous, and the prognostic implications thereof remain unclear. The aim of the study was to assess the prognostic value of differential detection at various defining time points in a population-based patient cohort and conduct a literature review of the topic.


All patients diagnosed with CRC in the counties of Stockholm and Gotland, Sweden, during 2008 were included in the study and followed for 5 years or until death to identify patients diagnosed with liver metastases. Patients with liver metastases were followed from time of diagnosis of liver metastases for at least 5 years or until death. Different time points defining synchronous/metachronous detection, as reported in the literature and identified in a literature search of databases (PubMed, Embase, Cochrane library), were applied to the cohort, and overall survival was calculated using Kaplan-Meier curves and compared with log-rank test. The influence of synchronously or metachronously detected liver metastases on disease-free and overall survival as reported in articles forthcoming from the literature search was also assessed.


Liver metastases were diagnosed in 272/1026 patients with CRC (26.5%). No statistically significant difference in overall survival for synchronous vs. metachronous detection at any of the defining time points (CRC diagnosis/surgery and 3, 6 and 12 months post-diagnosis/surgery) was demonstrated for operated or non-operated patients. In the literature search, 41 publications met the inclusion criteria. No clear pattern emerged regarding the prognostic significance of synchronous vs. metachronous detection.


Synchronous vs. metachronous detection of CRC liver metastases lacks prognostic value. Using primary tumour diagnosis/operation as standardized cut-off point to define synchronous/metachronous detection is semantically correct. In synchronous detection, it defines a clinically relevant group of patients where individualized multimodality treatment protocols will apply.
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