Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Predicting survival after pulmonary metastasectomy for colorectal cancer: previous liver metastases matter

Ulrich Landes1, John Robert1, Thomas Perneger2, Gilles Mentha1, Vincent Ott1, Philippe Morel1 and Pascal Gervaz1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Geneva University Hospital and Medical School, Geneva, Switzerland

2 Department of Biostatistics, Geneva University Hospital and Medical School, Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC Surgery 2010, 10:17  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-10-17

Published: 3 June 2010



Few patients with lung metastases from colorectal cancer (CRC) are candidates for surgical therapy with a curative intent, and it is currently impossible to identify those who may benefit the most from thoracotomy. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of various parameters on survival after pulmonary metastasectomy for CRC.


We performed a retrospective analysis of 40 consecutive patients (median age 63.5 [range 33-82] years) who underwent resection of pulmonary metastases from CRC in our institution from 1996 to 2009.


Median follow-up was 33 (range 4-139) months. Twenty-four (60%) patients did not have previous liver metastases before undergoing lung surgery. Median disease-free interval between primary colorectal tumor and development of lung metastases was 32.5 months. 3- and 5-year overall survival after thoracotomy was 70.1% and 43.4%, respectively. In multivariate analysis, the following parameters were correlated with tumor recurrence after thoracotomy; a history of previous liver metastases (HR = 3.8, 95%CI 1.4-9.8); and lung surgery other than wedge resection (HR = 3.0, 95%CI 1.1-7.8). Prior resection of liver metastases was also correlated with an increased risk of death (HR = 5.1, 95% CI 1.1-24.8, p = 0.04). Median survival after thoracotomy was 87 (range 34-139) months in the group of patients without liver metastases versus 40 (range 28-51) months in patients who had undergone prior hepatectomy (p = 0.09).


The main parameter associated with poor outcome after lung resection of CRC metastases is a history of liver metastases.