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Conquer Cancer Health News
New Chemo for Colon Cancer, Drugs Pumped Directly in Liver's Blood Supply
The Associated Press


B 0 S T 0 N, Dec. 29 - Pumping chemotherapy drugs directly into the liver's blood supply can improve the odds of survival in patients with advanced colon cancer, a study found.

About 129,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer each year, and the disease spreads to the liver in 60 percent of them. About 14,000 patients per year undergo surgery to remove the tumors in their livers.

Doctors typically give them chemotherapy drugs that circulate through their bloodstreams. However, some studies suggest that infusing the medicines directly into the hepatic artery might produce better results.

The results of a study to test this idea were published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. The study was directed by Dr. Nancy Kemeny of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Standard Vs. New Therapy

In the study, 82 patients were randomly chosen to receive standard chemotherapy, while 74 were given drugs the usual way plus direct injections into the hepatic artery.

The liver has two blood supplies. Normal liver cells get most of their blood from the portal vein, while cancer cells are supplied largely by the hepatic artery. In theory, putting drugs into the hepatic artery exposes cancer to high concentrations of chemotherapy while sparing normal liver itssue.

The study showed that the new approach significantly improved patients' odds. Doctors projected that after five years, 61 percent of those getting the hepatic artery treatment would still be getting the hepatic artery treatment would still be alive, compared with 49 percent getting standard therapy.

However, the new approach carries more side effects. Patients were about twice as likely to suffer diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

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