Jonathan Whisenant, MD | Authors

Defining the Role of Hepatic Arterial Infusion Chemotherapy in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

May 01, 2004

The use of hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) chemotherapy in patientswith liver-only colorectal metastases is based on the pharmacologicprinciple that the regional administration of some drugs can lead tohigher drug concentrations at the site of the metastases and avoid systemictoxicity. Early randomized trials resulted in high response ratesbut did not lead to a survival advantage with HAI. More recent trialshave utilized improved surgical techniques and strict guidelines regardingdose reduction or cessation of HAI chemotherapy, resulting in asignificant reduction in toxicity. In patients with unresectable liver metastases,two recent European trials using HAI fluorouracil (5-FU)again failed to demonstrate an improvement in survival, but both wereplagued by a high complication rate with an associated high proportionof patients failing to receive the assigned treatment. In contrast,the preliminary results of a recent Cancer and Leukemia Group B trialdid demonstrate a survival advantage with HAI floxuridine when comparedto systemically administered 5-FU. Trials investigating the useof HAI chemotherapy in the adjuvant setting have yielded mixed results.Moreover, in light of improved response rates and overall survivalwith newer more active chemotherapeutic and novel agents, theabsolute role of HAI chemotherapy remains undefined.