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New Jefferson trial to test radiation-emitting beads against advanced liver cancer
Date:2/12/2008

(PHILADELPHIA) Liver cancer specialists at Jeffersons Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia are beginning an 18-month study of a new treatment for liver cancer. The therapy entails injecting tiny beads that emit small amounts of radiation into the livers main artery while also blocking the blood supply feeding the cancers growth.

The technique, called radioembolization, has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for use in inoperable liver cancer. This is the first time that the particular technology, called SIR-Spheres microspheres, which is FDA-approved for treating colon cancer that has spread to the liver, is being studied in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, or primary liver cancer (cancer that originates in the liver). The trial, which is led by Brian Carr, M.D., FRCP, Ph.D., professor of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, includes patients from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Pittsburgh.

According to Dr. Carr, who is chief of the liver tumor program at the Kimmel Cancer Center and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, the technique uses approximately 30-times more beads than other types or radioembolization. The teams plan to enroll 10 patients initially, and perhaps as many as 40 altogether. No one knows if radioembolization will be better than just radiation, even though there are theoretical grounds for it, he notes.

In the form of radioembolization being tested, millions of tiny beads or microspheres containing the radioactive isotope Yttrium-90 are injected through a catheter directly into the livers hepatic artery, which also supplies blood to tumors. The microspheres, in addition to blocking blood flow to the tumor, emit targeted radiation directly to the cancer, sparing healthy tissue.

Dr. Carr and his colleagues are encouraged by results from a recent clinical trial showing the effectiv
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Contact: Steve Benowitz
steven.benowitz@jefferson.edu
215-955-5291
Thomas Jefferson University
Source:Eurekalert

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