icon star paper   Hepatitis C Articles (HCV)  
Back grey_arrow_rt.gif
New Liver Cancer Therapy Approach Improves Survival
  Reported November 4, 2005
"New Hope for Liver Cancer"
By Julie Marks, Ivanhoe.com Health Correspondent
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Liver cancer is one of the toughest cancers to treat. Now, a new therapy may extend the lives of patients with this deadly disease.
Theodore Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor are the only researchers in the world using a new, targeted approach for treating liver tumors.
The treatment involves delivering high doses of chemotherapy directly into the liver artery. This artery actually feeds the tumor's growth. The doses of chemo are up to 400-times greater than what's usually given. Dr. Lawrence tells Ivanhoe, "If you give the chemotherapy in the liver artery, almost all of that chemo goes right into the tumor, and the little bit that goes to the normal liver is easily broken down ... The effectiveness can be maximized, and the side effects are minimized."
Dr. Lawrence combines the chemotherapy with specialized radiation that delivers three-times more radiation than the normal dose. Doctors carefully identify where the tumor is with a mathematical formula that divides the liver into about 2,000 small volumes. They then calculate the dose to each volume. "We've been able to come up with a mathematical equation that describes exactly how much radiation we can safely give to a normal liver while of course maximizing the dose to the tumor. So, for each patient, we meticulously plan the radiation to try to focus the beams on the tumor," Dr. Lawrence says.
According to Dr. Lawrence, combining the two specialized treatments allows for better results. He says: "I always explain to patients that this is like one plus one equals three. You get more than the simple sum of the two treatments because they work together. The medical term we use is synergistically. The sum is greater than the individual additions."
Dr. Lawrence says there is currently no effective treatment for patients with liver tumors that cannot be removed. Only about 15 percent of patients with liver cancers are candidates for surgery. "Primary liver cancer is among the most serious of all cancers. The average survival for patients who can't have it removed is less than six months," he tells Ivanhoe.
The new treatment, however, has prolonged survival in patients with liver cancer. Dr. Lawrence says patients receiving the highest doses of the therapy had an average survival of about two years, but some lived much longer. Dr. Lawrence says: "We're excited about that, considering we would have anticipated less than six months, but we still need to do better. We still have a lot of research we're trying to do, and we're constantly refining our techniques."
SOURCE: Ivanhoe Interview with Theodore Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.
  icon paper stack View Older Articles   Back to Top   www.natap.org