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Chemo pump prolongs life

Patients with liver metastases from coloractal cancer live an average of two years longer with subcutaneous chemo pumps

Cancer patients who have an implantable chemo pump inserted after surgery to remove liver metastases live two years longer than patients who did not receive a pump.

bejaarde vrouwPublished
This is the finding of a major study conducted among American cancer patients. Oncological surgeon Dr. Bas Groot Koerkamp headed the study at the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The results have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncolgy.

Colorectal cancer is very common in the Netherlands. About 13,000 new patients are diagnosed with the disease every year. Approximately half of these patients develop liver metastases. These metastases can often be surgically removed, but in 80% of the patients undergoing surgery the cancer returns. Chemotherapy  administered orally (pills) or intravenously does not reduce the likelihood of this occurring. In Europe there is currently no treatment to prevent the return of cancer after surgery.

Dr. Bas Groot Koerkamp, oncological surgeon at Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, examined a large group of patients in America who had an implantable chemo pump inserted subcutaneously after surgery to remove liver metastases. The pump administers the chemotherapy drugs locally, in other words directly in the liver, making it very effective.

The study shows that patients implanted with the chemo pump live an average of two years longer than patients who did not receive the pump after surgery.  Groot Koerkamp now intends to set up a similar study in the Netherlands and has already received a KWF grant (Dutch Cancer Society) to do so. 

The HAI (Hepatic Arterial Infusion)  pump delivers the chemotherapy, floxuridine, directly to the liver via the artery. The cancer cells are given a high dose of chemotherapy. The healthy liver cells are largely spared because the blood to these cells is carried mainly by the portal vein. These are cancer cells in the liver that were not visible during the CT scan or the operation and were therefore not removed by the surgeon . Floxuridine is special in that it is almost completely absorbed by the liver, which means that the concentration in the liver  is 400 times higher than outside the liver.

The chemotherapy is targeted to a specific area with extremely high concentrations in the cancer cell and  minimal side effects and therefore  improves the quality of life. Only a few patients suffered side effects such as stomach and bile duct complaints.

At the end of 2016, Dr. Groot Koerkamp was awarded a large grant by the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) to investigate the effectiveness of the HAI pump in the Netherlands. Patients with liver metastases from colorectal cancer are eligible to participate in the Dutch study.

Date published: 21 April 2017.

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