NEW ORLEANS (April 14, 2013)A new, minimally invasive treatment that tears microscopic holes in tumors without harming healthy tissue is a promising treatment for challenging cancers, suggests a preliminary study being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 38th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.
"Irreversible electroporation (or IRE) is a new way to attack cancer, using microsecond electrical pulses to kill cancer at the cellular level without damaging healthy tissue nearby. It may be especially beneficial in treating liver, lung, pancreatic and other cancers that are close to blood vessels, nerves and other sensitive structures," said Constantinos T. Sofocleous, M.D., Ph.D., FSIR, lead author and interventional radiologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, N.Y. "IRE appears to be especially beneficial in people with cancer that has spread beyond the primary tumor who do not have good treatment options," he added. "IRE uses strong electric fields to create tiny holes in the cell membrane, killing the cancer by disrupting the balance between the molecules inside and outside the cellwithout resulting in other cell damage. This makes IRE potentially ideal for treating tumors close to sensitive structures," said Sofocleous.
Whereas other treatmentssuch as surgery, or heating and freezing (also known as thermal ablation)can damage healthy tissue near the tumor, IRE precisely perforates the cancer cells, posing fewer risks to major blood vessels, nerves, bile ducts and other vital structures, he said.
IRE has been shown to be safe in the treatment of cancers that have metastasized, or spread, to the liver, lung, bladder and the pelvic region. In this study, 25 participants with a total of 40 metastases to the liver from lung, pancreas, thyroid gland, prostate, uterus and uterine lining, ovaries and rectum primaries, were treated with IRE. The average size of the tumors was about two centimeters
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Society of Interventional Radiology