Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 444 E 68th Street, New York, NY 10065, USA.
Liver metastases are the most common site of distant failure after curative resection of colorectal cancer and a source of significant cancer-related morbidity and mortality. Currently, imaging and conventional histopathologic features, such as T-stage and N-stage, are used by clinicians to inform prognosis and guide adjuvant treatment to reduce the risk of developing distant metastases. However, these tools only have a moderate ability to predict the development of liver metastases. Novel methods, including the detection of circulating tumor cells and carcinoembryonic antigens in serum, have been developed, and their prognostic and predictive characteristics have been assessed. In addition, several molecular and genetic markers in the primary tumor have been studied. Unfortunately, these studies are often small and their results have been mixed, yielding no consistent sets of externally validated predictors of colorectal liver metastases. For widespread clinical relevance, future tests need to be independently carried out on large independent patient samples.