Landmark for cancer treatment

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Cancer care in the UK has reached a landmark with a treatment being used for the first time to treat the disease in the liver by “bathing” it with chemotherapy.

Dr Brian Stedman, a consultant interventional radiologist at Southampton General Hospital, has used the treatment, which isolates the organ from the body for 60 minutes, on two patients.

He said that using two balloons to divert the blood supply from the liver, enabled the drugs to be delivered directly and at much higher dosage to the organ.

Following the treatment, known as percutaneous hepatic perfusion (PHP), the blood from the liver is drained and filtered to reduce toxicity before being returned via the patient’s jugular vein.

A US study showed PHP patients survived five times longer before the disease – metastatic melanoma – progressed than those who had standard chemotherapy.

Dr Stedman said: “Previously, the outlook for patients specifically suffering from cancer which has spread to the liver has been poor because the effect of standard chemotherapies is limited by the unwanted damage the drug causes to the rest of the body.”