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Lung Surgery for Colon Cancer Metastasis Gives Good Survival

By September 18, 2009

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For people with metastatic colon cancer, the future may feel overwhelming and hopeless. If cancer already has spread beyond the colon to other organs at the time of diagnosis, the often-quoted 5-year survival rate is low, at around 8%. However, these statistics are based on people who were diagnosed many years ago. Fortunately, treatments and the outlook for metastatic colon cancer have improved greatly in the last few years

Recent research out of Japan adds more good news to the picture for those living with metastatic colon cancer. Researchers studied 113 colon cancer patients who had undergone lung surgery, referred to as complete resection, to remove colon cancer that had spread to the lungs.

For patients who had a level of CEA, a protein produced by colon cancer, below 5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) in their blood and who did not have cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes from the lung tumors, the 5-year survival rate after lung surgery was 94%. The 7-year survival rate was 79%. Amazingly, aspects of the primary colon cancer cells called pathologic features, previous surgery to remove colon cancer that had spread to the liver, and additional lung surgeries did not affect survival.

What Does This Mean?

This is very promising news and may offer some comfort to patients living with metastatic colon cancer. The Japanese study suggests that even after colon cancer has spread to the liver and the lungs, having a surgery to remove the tumors can greatly improve survival rates, leading to more meaningful years of life. This type of surgery also may provide more time during which new drugs can be discovered and tested, possibly improving survival further.

The longer a person with metastatic cancer lives, the more likely that he or she will be around to benefit from new medical advances designed to turn cancer into a manageable, chronic disease, not something that greatly shortens life. Along with better and longer life, the surgery study also offers something that all cancer survivors need and deserve to have: Hope for the future.

September 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm
(1) maureen Fischer says:

this is the most encouraging news i’ve read so far. i wonder if this applies to “non resectable” liver tumors. I can’t seem to find any data on this subject.

October 23, 2010 at 2:46 am
(2) Gil Japitaha says:

hi,my wife was diagnosed with colon CA stage3c last 2002, it was removed surgically, with two lymphnodes escaping already, she was wel til 2008, after helping me clean the mess of typhoon frank, she got fever and was found out to have metastasis on both lungs, she is now having shortnes of breath. my queston is, can we still remove the multinodes in her lungs?? are there other means ecxept chemotherapy?? Salamat Gid

October 26, 2010 at 6:19 pm
(3) coloncancer says:

Hello Salamat,

I’m so sorry that your wife’s cancer has returned. Nobody should have to face that news. It is possible that your wife would be a good candidate for surgery to remove the tumors that are in her lungs. You need to consult and oncologist and/or an oncology surgeon to learn more about this option. Only a qualified doctor can determine if this surgery would be safe and helpful for your wife. I encourage you to make an appointment with your doctor right away to discuss how best to manage your wife’s condition.

I’m keeping you both in my thoughts.

Colon Cancer Guide Suzanne

January 13, 2011 at 11:26 am
(4) LOH says:


My mom was diagnosed with Colon Cancer a couple weeks ago and after a CT scan the day before her schedules surgery they decided to put it off because it has spread into her lungs and maybe/maybe not the liver. She is 53 years old. She goes for a PET scan friday and Monday we meet with the Oncologist. Should they really push off the surgery to remove the colon or should they remove that first and then deal with the lungs? Her blood work came back good a couple weeks ago and you wouldn’t even know she has Cancer! She feels fine and her usual self and doesn’t really seem to be showing any of the signs for lung cancer. She is a smoker though, but the doctor said that there is a lot of lung tissue that looks good, that over-all minus the masses in the lungs she they look good. I am just curious of your thoughts on how well she will pull through etc. I believe they said no radiation straight to agressive chemo, depending on what the oncologist says. It’s hard having hope when you just keep read, and getting bad news!
Thank you!

January 20, 2011 at 11:04 pm
(5) coloncancer says:

I’m so sorry that you mom has colon cancer. I would talk to her doctors in a very straight forward way to get an answer about whether she needs to have the tumor in her colon removed sooner rather than later. One of the most important things during cancer care is to make sure your questions are answered in a way you understand. Doctors sometimes use a lot of technical terms and don’t explain things clearly, so ask, ask, and ask some more if something doesn’t make sense to you. Your mom is very lucky to have you to help her sort through all of this information and figure out what the best way forward is for cancer treatment. Being there for your mom is a priceless gift to her. Colon Cancer Guide Suzanne

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