PURPOSE: Resection is the most effective treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer (MCRC) to the liver. However, postoperative morbidity is common and its impact on long-term oncological outcome is unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of postoperative morbidity on the long-term outcome after liver resection for MCRC. METHODS: Medical records of patients who underwent liver resection for MCRC with curative intent between 1991 and 2002 were reviewed. Patients who died of postoperative complications were excluded; operative and perioperative data, including morbidity and clinicopathological variables, were analyzed. Patients were stratified by disease extent and risk of recurrence using a clinical risk scoring system. RESULTS: A total of 1067 patients were included in the study and the median follow-up period was 41 months. The overall morbidity rate was 42%; the 5-year disease-specific survival (DSS) and overall disease-free survival (DFS) rates of patients who had complications were 41% and 25%, respectively, compared with 48% and 33%, respectively, for patients who did not have complications (P = 0.0059 for DSS, P = 0.0053 for DFS). On multivariate analysis, morbidity was not an independent predictor of either DSS or DFS; however, in a subgroup of patients with low clinical risk scores, morbidity was associated with a significant reduction in both DSS and DFS. CONCLUSIONS: Postoperative morbidity adversely affects long-term outcome after hepatic resection for MCRC in patients at lower risk for recurrence. Efforts aimed at reducing perioperative morbidity will not only reduce usage of resources but will likely further enhance the therapeutic benefit of resection for such patients.
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