Background The benefit of pre-operative chemotherapy in patients with resectable colorectal liver metastases (CRLM) remains ill defined. We sought to evaluate the impact of peri-operative systemic chemotherapy timing on outcome following resection of CRLM. Methods 676 patients who underwent surgery for CRLM were identified from two hepatobiliary center databases. Data were collected and analyzed utilizing multivariate, matched, and propensity-score analyses. Results Median number of metastases was 2 and median tumor size was 3.3 cm. 334 patients (49.4%) received pre-operative chemotherapy while 342(50.6%) did not. Surgical treatment was resection only (n = 555; 82.1%; minor hepatectomy, n = 399; 59.1%). While there was no difference in morbidity following minor liver resection (pre-operative chemotherapy: 17.9% versus no pre-operative chemotherapy: 16.5%; P = 0.72), morbidity was higher after major hepatic resection (pre-operative chemotherapy: 23.1% versus no pre-operative chemotherapy: 14.2%; P = 0.06). Patients treated with pre-operative chemotherapy had worse 5-year survival (43%) as compared to patients not treated with pre-operative chemotherapy (55%)(P = 0.009). Controlling for baseline characteristics, pre-operative chemotherapy was not associated with outcome on multivariate (HR = 1.04, P = 0.87) or propensity-score analysis (HR = 1.40, P = 0.12). Conclusion Pre-operative chemotherapy was associated with a trend toward increased morbidity among patients undergoing a major hepatic resection. Receipt of pre-operative chemotherapy was associated with neither an advantage nor disadvantage in terms of long-term survival. J. Surg. Oncol. 2012; 105:511-519.
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