Date posted: September 09, 2008
Breakthrough Technology For Liver Cancer
Liver cancer patients can now hope to live longer quality lives. St. Luke's offers two of the most modern and state-of-the-art technologies in combating the disease.
Local statistics show that liver is the third most common site of cancer for men and sixth for women. Most patients die within a year of diagnosis and the five-year survival rate from the disease (if no treatment is undertaken) is less than five percent. If the cancer is diagnosed early and treated aggressively, the expected five-year survival rate is about 35 percent.
St. Luke's Center for Liver Diseases and the Department of Nuclear Medicine have taken the lead in bringing the world's most up-to-date treatment modalities to treat liver cancer patients in the Philippines.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
The Center for Liver Diseases at St. Luke's performs Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), the use of radiofrequency energy to destroy malignant biological tissues. This method involves placement of a special needle electrode in the tumor under the guidance of an imaging device such as ultrasound. Then, a radiofrequency current is passed through the electrode to heat the tumor tissue near the needle tip to ablate or burn -- it. This procedure causes only minimal discomfort and may be done with local anesthesia or conscious sedation.
When used in the liver, RFA specifically targets liver malignancy like hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a primary liver cancer, and metastatic tumors such as from colon cancer. It is both a curative treatment and a palliative option that can prolong survival.
Recent breakthroughs are making RFA ideal for local control of some cancers. Local tumor control is an attractive option for patients who are not ideal surgical candidates or have failed conventional therapies.
RFA may also expand surgery options. It may convert an inoperable patient into a surgery candidate by treating small liver lesions that are too difficult to remove with surgery. It has survival rates similar to surgery for colorectal carcinoma liver metastases with lesions of less than four centimeters, and surgery for hepatocellular carcinomas with lesions of less than five centimeters.
The most recent raw data of St. Luke's Liver RFA team headed by Dr. Juliet Gopez-Cervantes indicate that their one, three and five-year survival rates are comparable with those of many major RFA center in other countries.
Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT)
The availability of another revolutionary method called Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) was recently announced by the St. Luke's Department of Nuclear Medicine. SIRT is another cutting-edge treatment for advanced liver cancer that utilizes new technologies to deliver radiation directly to the tumors for those who fail the inclusion criteria for surgical management and RFA.
SIRT presents itself as an option for patients with primary and secondary liver tumors and where there are multiple involvements of both lobes of the liver such that resection will not sustain life and RFA will be too difficult or dangerous. SIRT technology involves the delivery of millions of microscopic radioactive biocompatible spheres (tiny polymer plastic beads or microspheres) called SIR-Spheres directly to the site of the liver tumors, where they selectively irradiate the tumors, while maintaining low radiation dose to the normal liver tissue.
SIR-Spheres are delivered through a catheter placed in the femoral artery of the upper thigh and threaded through the hepatic artery (the major blood vessel of the liver) to the site of the tumor. The microspheres are trapped in the tumor's vascular bed where they destroy the tumor by reducing its blood supply (embolic effect) and damage the cancer cells' DNA through local radiation. Radiation is wholly contained within the patient's body and is continually delivered over approximately two weeks after which the microspheres are no longer radioactive.
The SIRT team is composed of: Dr. Eric B. Cruz of St. Luke's Department of Nuclear Medicine, Dr. Dennis C. Villanueva of St. Luke's Department of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, and Michael Torres, St. Luke's Chief Nuclear Medical Technologist. St. Luke's Department of Nuclear Medicine has over four years of experience with the intra-hepatic arterial delivery of radioisotopes into liver cancer.
For more information about prevention, early detection, treatment and management of liver cancer, please call (632) 723-0101 ext. 4178 for St. Luke's Center for Liver Diseases, or ext. 5419 or 4151 for St. Luke's Department of Nuclear Medicine, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit our website: www.stluke.com.ph.