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Electrical pulse treatment gives pancreatic cancer patients new hope
Date:3/26/2012

Results of a study presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 37th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., signal a light at the end of the tunnel for individuals with inoperable locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC). A new procedure called irreversible electroporation or IRE uses microsecond electrical pulses to force open and destroy tumor cells around a vast and delicate network of blood vessels of the pancreas. The technique has been successful in treating primary and metastatic liver cancer and IRE is now in the first stages of implementation as a treatment for pancreatic cancer.

"We think in another 12 to 15 months we will have a lot more evidence to support the use of IRE for inoperable pancreatic cancer patients," said Govindarajan Narayanan, M.D., chief of vascular and interventional radiology, associate professor of clinical radiology and program director for the vascular interventional radiology fellowship at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Fla. "If we continue to get good results, this procedure could provide a huge benefit for people who honestly don't have a lot of choices. It could potentially change the rules of how these cases are managed," he added.

Pancreatic tumors are notoriously difficult to treat because any method that uses heat or cold to remove the cancer comes with too much risk of collateral damage to important blood vessels in and around the organ. IRE involves guiding electrode needles into the tumor, which gives cancer cells a series of jolts of localized high-voltage electricity that break open the cell membranes, effectively killing the cancerous tissues around these blood vessels.

"People with locally advanced pancreatic cancer don't have a lot of treatment choices available. Irreversible electroporation gives these individuals a new treatment option and a potentially greater chance of survival," said Narayanan. "Without IRE, these people ar
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Contact: Ellen Acconcia
eacconcia@sirweb.org
703-460-5582
Society of Interventional Radiology
Source:Eurekalert

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