Renewed considerations on the utility (or the futility) of hepatic resections for breast cancer liver metastases

Gian Luca Grazi


Indication for liver resection (LR) for localized hepatic metastases from breast cancer (BC) is still a matter of debate. A literature review of recent scientific papers pertaining to hepatectomies for BC liver metastases (LM). We based our systematic review on case series on literature reviews, comparative studies and cost-utility analysis which have been selected based on criteria regarding surgery, possible prognostic factors and evaluation of long-term survival. There is a strong inhomogeneity in the reported data, with 5-year survivals ranging from 21% to 58%. There is no agreement in the evaluation of prognostic variables predicting good survival, with the only exception of the time of treatment of the primary BC until the diagnosis of metastases. Three out of the four comparative studies report better survivals for patients who underwent a hepatectomy in comparison to those treated with chemotherapy alone, but their strength in terms of scientific evidence is weak. The only cost utility analysis revealed that 2 out of the 3 scenarios considered were in favor of the treatment with surgery followed by conventional chemotherapy. There is no definitive proof on the effectiveness of LRs for BC LM. Surgery can be proposed when it is possible to perform radical surgery, with R0 margins and saving at least 30% of the liver with its vascular and biliary connections. Stable skeletal metastases are not a contraindication. The interval between treatment of the primary location and diagnosis of hepatic metastases is the only prognosis criteria available.