Penn Researchers Find Chemoembolization Effective For Liver Tumors

Chemotherapy Delivered Directly to Liver Tumors Doubles Life Expectancy

(Philadelphia, PA) -- More than 150,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed each year, and, for half of these patients, the disease spreads to the liver. A Phase-II study performed by a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center has found that a minimally invasive technique known as chemoembolization may double the survival time of adult patients with colon cancer that has spread to the liver. Michael C. Soulen, MD, associate professor of radiology at Penn and senior author of the study, will present these findings at the 24th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Cardiovascular & Interventional Radiology (SCVIR) on Wednesday, March 24, in Orlando, Florida.

Systemic chemotherapy delivers cancer-killing medication into the bloodstream where it travels throughout the body and eventually reaches the tumor. In contrast, chemoembolization works by delivering chemotherapy directly to cancerous cells with the use of a non-surgical, interventional catheterization technique. This technique also involves the infusion of tiny particles that cut off the blood supply to the tumor, thus inhibiting cancer-cell growth. Colon cancer that has metastasized, or spread, can be managed with chemoembolization when systemic chemotherapy has failed. "Chemoembolization hones in on the cancerous cells that have spread to the liver and avoids exposing the rest of the body to chemotherapy's toxic effects," explains Dr. Soulen. "This technique is not a cure, but it can extend patients' lives and preserve their quality of life."

In this study, 51 patients whose colon cancer had metastasized to the liver were treated with chemoembolization. Eighty-six percent (86%), or 44 of the patients, survived one year after treatment. The patients in this study survived an average of two years. Typically, less than half of liver cancer patients survive one year after underg

Contact: Sue Montgomery
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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