MIAMI BEACH (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS)Cytoreductive debulking surgery for neuroendocrine liver metastases provides a lower but “reasonable” long-term survival, compared with curative intent surgery, according to results of a study presented at the annual meeting of the Americas Hepatico-Pancreato-Biliary Association.

Liver debulking for patients with grossly unresectable disease is therefore an option that may extend survival, the study researchers said.

“Surgical resection offers the best chance for long-term survival but may not be technically feasible for all our patients,” said Fabio Bagante, MD, a resident at the University of Verona (Italy). “Debulking neuroendocrine liver metastases has been proposed as an alternative.”

Dr. Bagante and coinvestigators compared outcomes between 180 patients who had debulking surgery (defined as an R2 outcome) and 449 who underwent curative intent resection (R0 or R1). Patients had surgery between 1990 and 2015 at eight institutions, and the primary outcome was overall survival. The mean follow-up was 51 months; during that time, 174 patients died.

The 5-year overall survival was 72% in the debulking group and 89% in the curative intent group. The 10-year overall survival was 41% in the debulking group and 77% among the curative intent surgery patients.

“Debulking operations for neuroendocrine liver metastases provide lower but reasonable long-term survival, compared with patients who underwent curative intent,” Dr. Bagante said.

“Nearly 3 in 10 patients underwent debulking surgery,” Dr. Bagante said. “It was more common among the elderly, males with symptomatic disease, and patients with greater liver involvement.”

Patients in the liver-debulking groups were also significantly more likely to have high–tumor grade disease, 35%, versus 13% of the curative intent resection group (P less than .001). They were also more likely to have metastatic disease, with an N1 rate of 73% versus 52% (P less than .001).

“Great work. Thanks for presenting this topic. It’s quite a debated topic,” said study discussant Aaron Lee, DO , of the department of general surgery at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston. “I looked at your data on asymptomatic patients who had a 5-year survival of 60%; U.K. data show [the] same survival without any intervention.” He asked Dr. Bagante to comment on operating on patients without any symptoms.

“Regarding the role of symptoms as a predictor of survival, there are many papers in the literature debating what are the true predictors of survival,” Dr. Bagante noted. “We don’t think [symptoms have an] impact; our data do not demonstrate that. We think the biologic behavior of the disease, the impact of the progression of the disease, and the grade of the tumor, [indicated by] Ki-67, could have more of a role.”