Sometimes during the initial evaluation of a case, or during surgery on the colon, the surgeon will find that the cancer has spread (metastasized).

Both colon and rectal cancers spread to the lungs, but they are more likely to spread to the liver.


If the metastases are small and few, the surgeon may recommend an operation to remove the affected part of the liver with the goal of curing the disease, or extending life expectancy. This surgical approach to metastatic cancer is always combined with chemotherapy treatment, which is described in a later chapter.

The preferred procedure is to perform a partial liver resection—in other words, to remove part of the liver. If this is not possible because of the number or location of the metastases, or for reasons of your general health, then an alternative approach is cryosurgery or radiofrequency ablation.

Cryosurgery destroys the cancer tissues by freezing them with supercooled thin probes inserted directly into the metastases. 

Radiofrequency ablation (also referred to as RFA) destroys the cancer tissue by heating it with small probes inserted into the metastases.

Recovery after liver surgery is sometimes more difficult than after a colectomy. Your healthcare team to review the details with you.


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