Background: Liver resection for metastatic colorectal cancer became established without randomized trials. Proponents of surgical resection point out 5-year survival approaching 50% whilst critics question how much of the apparent effect is due to patient selection. Method: A 2006 systematic review of reported outcomes provided the starting point for citation analysis followed by thematic analysis of the texts of the most cited papers. Results: 54 reports from 1988 to 2002 cited 709 unique publications a total of 1714 times. The 15 most cited papers were explored in detail, and showed clear examples of duplicate reporting and overlapping data sets. Textual analysis revealed proposals for a randomized controlled trial, but this was argued to be unethical by others, and no trial was undertaken. Conclusions: This critical review reveals how the case for this surgery was made, and examines the arguments that influenced acceptance and adoption of this surgery.

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Critical Reviews in Oncology / Hematology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Grunhagen, D. J., Jones, R. P., Treasure, T., Vasilakis, C., & Poston, L. (2013). The history of adoption of hepatic resection for metastatic colorectal cancer: 1984-95. Critical Reviews in Oncology / Hematology (Vol. 86, pp. 222–231). doi:10.1016/j.critrevonc.2012.10.007