Open Access Research article

Response of the primary tumor in symptomatic and asymptomatic stage IV colorectal cancer to combined interventional endoscopy and palliative chemotherapy

Silke Cameron1, Diana Hünerbein1, Tümen Mansuroglu1, Thomas Armbrust1, Jens-Gerd Scharf1, Harald Schwörer1, László Füzesi2 and Giuliano Ramadori1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, University Clinic of the Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany

2 Department of Gastroenteropathology, University Clinic of the Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:218  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-218

Published: 1 July 2009



The treatment of the primary tumor in advanced metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) is still a matter of discussion. Little attention has thus far been paid to the endoscopically observable changes of the primary in non-curatively resectable stage IV disease.


20 patients [14 men, 6 women, median age 67 (39–82) years] were observed after initial diagnosis of non-curatively resectable metastasized symptomatic (83%) or asymptomatic (17%) CRC, from June 2002 to April 2009. If necessary, endoscopic tumor debulking was performed. 5-FU based chemotherapy was given immediately thereafter. In 10 patients, chemotherapy was combined with antibody therapy.


Response of the primary was observed in all patients. Local symptoms were treated endoscopically whenever necessary (obstruction or bleeding), and further improved after chemotherapy was started: Four patients showed initial complete endoscopic disappearance of the primary. In an additional 6 patients, only adenomatous tissue was histologically detected. In both these groups, two patients revealed local tumor relapse after interruption of therapy. Local tumor regression or stable disease was achieved in the remaining 10 patients. 15 patients died during the observation time. In 13 cases, death was related to metastatic disease progression. The mean overall survival time was 19.6 (3–71) months. No complications due to the primary were observed.


This study shows that modern anti-cancer drugs combined with endoscopic therapy are an effective and safe treatment of the symptomatic primary and ameliorate local complaints without the need for surgical intervention in advanced UICC stage IV CRC.