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Chemoembolization Improving as Liver Cancer Treatment
Date:1/19/2009

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Using tiny chemotherapy-soaked beads to choke off and kill cancerous liver tumors is becoming more successful, according to research being presented at the 21st annual International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET).

Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is a minimally invasive therapy that takes a two-pronged approach to treating cancer. Interventional physicians use minimally invasive methods to deliver the beads (also called microspheres) to the blood vessels that feed the tumor. The beads are combined with cancer-killing chemotherapeutic agents and then delivered to the blood vessels. The beads lodge in the blood vessels, blocking blood flow to the artery and cutting off the blood supply to the tumor - known as embolization. Several studies being presented at ISET report on advances in the treatment.

The most effective way to treat most cancerous tumors is by surgically removing them. However, more than two-thirds of people with liver cancer aren't candidates for surgery due to the size or location of the tumor, or because the tumor has grown into the blood vessels. Doctors have turned to other methods of treatment, including TACE. Because the chemotherapy is delivered directly to the tumor - rather than to the entire body as is the case with traditional chemotherapy - side effects usually are lessened.

On average, only about one in four liver cancer patients is alive after two years. Although TACE typically is used to slow the disease, not cure it, improvements in the beads are making it more effective and promising as a cure in some cases. Improvements include beads that absorb the chemotherapeutic agent (rather than just being mixed with it), and then release the drug once in the body, as well as modifications to uniformity and size of the beads themselves so that they can more fully block the blood vessel and further guard against potential lea
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SOURCE International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy
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