Interventional Radiation: New Hope for Liver Cancer Patients
Most cancers are treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or some combination of these treatments. Interventional radiologists such as Ryan O’Hara, MD, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator and director of interventional oncology for the University of Utah and HCI, use a range of minimally invasive technologies to help cancer patients and improve their quality of life.
Interventional procedures such as ablation, chemoembolization, and radioembolization often have fewer side effects than more conventional treatments.
Ablation destroys tumor cells without surgery by applying extreme heat or cold, acetic acid, or alcohol directly into tumors. Tis relatively new technique shows promising results with longer survival times from diagnosis for liver cancer patients. In radiofrequency ablation, interventional oncologists use computed tomography (CT) imaging to place a special probe into the center of a tumor through a tiny cut in the skin. Te probe produces heat that destroys the tumor.
Chemoembolization is the mainstay therapy for some liver cancer patients who cannot undergo surgery to remove tumors. Te procedure delivers chemotherapy directly to a tumor through a catheter placed into the blood vessel that feeds it. After the treatment, the
A type of catheter designed to remove plaque from inside blood veins has a new use: it appears to increase the accuracy of diagnosing patients with bile duct blockages, according to a recent article by members of the Hepatobiliary Cancers Research Program. Te article appeared in HPB, the official journal of the International Hepato Pancreato Biliary Association.
Determining whether cancer is the cause of a bile duct blockage can be problematic. Te complexity of bile duct structure makes it hard to get high-quality biopsy samples using conventional endoscopy.
Te new technique helped preserve the tissue structure of samples, which allowed more accurate results in diagnosing possible bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). Initial results show that the technique may allow more timely diagnosis of the disease with fewer undetermined results. More studies will be needed to fully determine the accuracy of the technique.
Schwartz JJ, Tiesset HF, Clayton F, Adler DG, Hutson WR, Carlisle JG. Using the modern Silverhawk™ atherectomy catheter to characterize biliary structures that appear malignant: review of initial experience. HBP (Oxford). 2011 Nov; 13(11):823-9.
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catheter is removed, and the patient can usually return home after an overnight hospital stay. Tis keeps a high concentration of medication
focused on the tumor for a longer time. Chemoembolization appears to be more effective and have fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy, which spreads the medicine through the entire body.
Radioembolization is used to treat advanced liver cancer and also
Chemoembolization is a mainstay therapy for certain liver cancer patients who cannot undergo surgery to remove tumors. Chemotherapy drugs go directly to the tumor through a catheter placed into the blood vessel that feeds it.
used when the disease has come back after responding to earlier treatment. Tiny beads that hold a radioactive isotope are injected into the main artery that carries blood to the liver. Te beads collect in the tumor, where the radiation kills the cancer cells and destroys blood vessels the tumor needs to grow.
Interventional procedures are frequently part of the treatment plan for a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma. Tey are also often used to help patients with other cancers that have spread to the liver.
Patient by patient, all the members of HCI’s hepatobiliary team work together to identify the most effective course of cancer treatment. Te team’s combined expertise and HCI’s state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment technology offer new hope for people with hepatocellular carcinoma.
Ryan O’Hara, MD, is also chief of the Division of Interventional Radiology at the University of Utah and an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology.
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