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Infusing chemotherapy into the liver gives extra months of disease-free life in melanoma patients
Date:9/23/2011

Stockholm, Sweden: Melanoma of the eye (ocular or uveal melanoma) frequently spreads to the liver and, once this has happened, there is no effective treatment and patients die within an average of two to four months. Only about one in ten patients live for a year. Now, final results from a phase III study have demonstrated that a new treatment significantly extends the time patients can live without the disease progressing.

James Pingpank, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (Pittsburgh, USA), will tell the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress [1] on Saturday that, by April 2011, the length of time that patients survived without the metastases spreading further in the liver (disease progression) was an average of 8.1 months for those receiving the new treatment compared to 1.6 months in the group of patients that had been randomised to receive the best alternative care.

The new treatment is called percutaneous hepatic perfusion (PHP) and is designed to saturate the liver with high doses of chemotherapy without affecting the rest of the body. The chemotherapy drug melphalan is infused directly into the liver via an intra-arterial catheter over a period of 30 minutes. Blood in the veins leading out of the liver is then captured and filtered through a specially designed, double-balloon catheter to extract the drug before the cleaned blood is returned to the body. This enables the drug to be delivered directly to the liver to target the melanoma metastases there, but in a minimally invasive manner. The patient is monitored in intensive care before being allowed home. Once the liver has recovered from the toxicity of the treatment, the procedure is repeated every four to eight weeks.

In a phase III, randomised trial that took place in nine US clinics, 93 patients were randomised to receive PHP or best alternative care between February 2006 and July 2009. Best alternative care (BAC) wa
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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