Extending the Liver Cancer Highway

Advanced liver cancer successfully treated with radioembolization

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients with advanced liver cancer typically have few therapeutic options. Scientists have discovered that an existing technology offers new hope and days for these patients.

A multi-center analysis shows that a type of radiation therapy - radioembolization - extends the lives of patients with all stages of liver cancer, including the most advanced cases.

"Internal radiation is an effective treatment for liver cancer."

Radioembolization has been called "internal radiation." Tiny glass or resin beads filled with radioactive material are placed directly inside the body close to the tumor site.

New reseach under the guidance of Bruno Sangro, M.D., Ph.D., at the Clinica Universitaria de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, looked at the viability of using this therapy on patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

A total of in 325 patients with HCC were evaluated at eight centers around Europe. Because of the advanced stage of their disease, these patients weren't eligible for surgery or liver transplants.

The study found that radioembolization extended the lives of patients about 13 months.

Dr. Sangro says the findings are promising, but more research is needed to study particularly for patients with advanced liver cancer.

This study appears in Hepatology, a journal of the American  Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

The National Cancer Institute predicts there will be more than 26,000 cases of liver and bile cancer diagnosed in the United States this year. The disease will also cause about 20,000 deaths.

The World Health Organization reports that HCC caused some 700,000 deaths around the world in 2008, with more than 80 percent being the result of hepatitis B and C infections.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 30, 2011
Last Updated:
September 2, 2011