A procedure is changing the way patients with liver cancer receive treatment, prolonging their life and eliminating the side effects from chemotherapy.
Dr. Mark Bloomston, a surgical oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health, says a hockey puck shaped device is improving the quality of life for patients with liver cancer. “What this is, is an implantable device that goes into the skin with a long tube that goes into the artery that feeds the liver. The purpose of that is to be able to trickle very high doses of chemotherapy directly to the tumors in the liver without many side effects of chemotherapy going throughout the body.”
The pump delivers 400 times the dose of chemotherapy directly to the liver, leaving the patient with no side effects. “Nationwide there’s not a lot of places placing these pumps. Nobody else in the state of Florida is doing them currently. It is something fairly new to the area to provide more options,” said Dr. Bloomston.
The pump is the size of a hockey puck that sits just beneath the skin near the abdomen and pumps chemotherapy into the liver every two weeks. “Most commonly we use it for patients who have had colon and rectal cancers that have spread to the liver. That’s the most common scenario. It’s the most common organ to have cancer spread to,” said Dr. Bloomston.
In addition to the pump, patients may have part of their liver removed to minimize the cancer from coming back. “The reality is these patients are living a long time and they get tired of being on chemotherapy, they want a break. So if they have disease confined to the liver, this provides another step for them to maybe get off chemotherapy altogether for a period of time,” said Dr. Bloomston.
While it’s not a cure, it offers patients another option of treatment to help prolong their survival rate.
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