New liver cancer treatment; the current picture

November 08, 2001

In June, 2000, the Adelaidean reported on promising trials of a new technique to treat patients suffering from cancers of the liver. The researchers have now presented the preliminary results of those trials to the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (South Australia).

The surgical team, led by Professor Guy Maddern from Adelaide University's Department of Surgery, developed the technique of inserting electrodes into the tumours and surrounding liver tissue, and then passing small electric currents through them.

This process, termed electrolysis, destroys tumour and liver tissue in much the same way as electrolysis destroys the follicles of unwanted hair. It affects much less normal liver tissue than surgery of a more conventional kind, in which tumours are cut from the liver.

The ten patients treated so far in the ongoing trial at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital had all been evaluated as unsuitable for conventional surgical treatment due to the extent of their tumours. Nine were patients whose colonic cancers had spread to the liver, while one was treated for cancer of the liver itself.

The average follow-up time for the patients was 9 months; the shortest time being 6 months and the longest 43 months. 8 of the 10 patients showed no evidence of residual tumour at the treatment site. 5 of these 8 patients had developed new areas of tumour spread, but 3 showed no evidence of tumour recurrence.

There has been considerable worldwide interest in the trials following the initial release of the story. The Department is continuing to treat new patients using the technique, but Dr Benjamin Teague, Research Registrar in the Department of Surgery, cautions that patients must meet a number of criteria to be considered for treatment.

"They must be fit for major surgery," said Dr Teague," which means having no significant medical conditions that would make them unsuitable for a general anaesthetic and abdominal surgery. They must also have no untreatable tumour outside the liver," he said.

If patients appear to meet the first two criteria, then further details, including scans of their tumours and reports are used to determine whether they meet the third criterion.

"Various kinds of scans can be used; MRI, ultrasound, PET or CT scans, but they need to show that the tumours that they have in the liver must be of a size, number and distribution that makes them suitable for electrolytic treatment," said Dr Teague.

If a patient's scans are promising, the team makes arrangements for further. These may include additional scans, a consultation and a preliminary 'keyhole' inspection, in which a small opening is made in the abdominal wall and a laparoscopic instrument used to make a visual inspection of the liver.

"If all of these procedures suggest that a patient is suitable for treatment, then we can perform the definitive procedure," said Dr Teague. "In many cases, the electrolysis is performed along with surgery to remove affected sections of the liver," he said.

Dr Teague cautions that, despite the promising trials, it is not yet possible to say whether the procedure is of long-term benefit.

"We can only determine that by evaluating the future progress of the patients who undergo this treatment, said Dr Teague. "However we do hope that by aiming to destroy the tumours in this way we may offer the possibility of a long-term cure to some patients."
Professor Guy Maddern:
Department of Surgery, Queen Elizabeth Hospital
tel.+618 8222 6000 fax.+618 8222 6028 email.

University of Adelaide

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to