Surgeons in the UK have pioneered a new treatment for cancer that is both unique and promising. The treatment involved isolating a cancerous liver by cutting off its blood supply and at the same time, dousing the organ with a “chemo bath.”
The procedure enables saturation of the tumours with chemotherapy while restricting the effects solely within the infected organ. Brian Stedman, is the consultant radiologist at Southampton General Hospital, who led the team that used the procedure, known as Chemosaturation with Percutaneous Hepatic Perfusion (CS-PHP). There were two patients who underwent the operation because their livers had become cancerous.
A cancerous liver is one where mutated cells grow and take over healthy cells. It is called primary liver cancer if it begins there, but metastatic if it spreads from outside, as with eye melanoma. Around 21, thousand Americans contract primary liver cancer every year. It is unusual in being a cancer on the increase. There are no obvious symptoms, which makes early diagnosis a matter of luck rather than screening. Men are two times more likely to suffer from it than women.
Symptoms to be aware of with advanced stage liver cancer might include tiredness, abdominal bloating, pain high up on the right of abdomen, in your back or shoulder area. Also nausea, loss of appetite, feeling full while losing weight, weakness, fever, and yellowing of the eyes and the skin.
This new CS-PHP treatment was developed in Europe and used successfully in America, Germany, Ireland, Italy and France. A study published in the spring, out of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, reports that the cancer sufferers that underwent the procedure lived five times longer than patients who underwent traditional treatment.
There are several cancers that invade the liver from original tumors in other organs. Melanoma of the eye is one such. Cancer of the liver is virtually untreatable and four months is the average longevity with only 10% of sufferers living past a year.
CS-PHP significantly adds to the life of melanoma patients while improving the quality of life since the disease progresses no further. The chemotherapy cocktails are infused straight into the liver using a catheter. Blood in the veins, that normally would enter the liver, is diverted and filtered through a purpose made, ‘double-balloon’ catheter to remove all traces of the drug before returning to the organ.
The new methodology enables higher concentrate drugs to be targeted on the liver. It gives maximum impact with minimum ‘collateral damage’. Dr. Stedman comments on the technique,
”To cut off an organ from the body for 60 minutes, soak it in a high dose of drug and then filter the blood almost completely clean before returning is truly groundbreaking.”
He contrasted the new and more traditional treatments where the prognosis for sufferers is dire because of the awful side effects of even low concentrate chemotherapy that wreaks havoc on the whole body. There are possibilities for CS-PHP to be used as a treatment method for other tumors such as in the colon or breast.