It’s a cutting-edge treatment for patients with colon cancer and doctors say this new way to deliver chemotherapy is prolonging lives.
Rita Laflamme has 57 years of memories and counting with her husband Bob.
She says, “We have two sons and two grandchildren.”
But both were stunned when Rita was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer last year. Every year, nearly 140-thousand people in the U.S. are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. In up to a quarter of those, it has spread to the liver.
When standard chemotherapy stops working many patients are left with few options. Now doctors at Duke University are offering a treatment called hepatic artery infusion using a pump.
Dr. Michael Lidsky with Duke University Medical Center says, “The pump which is a battery-powered motorized pump is surgically implanted into a pocket in the abdominal wall.”
The pump provides a direct dose of concentrated chemo to the liver.
Dr. Lidsky says, “Those concentrations actually reach somewhere between three and 400 times the concentration that we would be able to get if we gave it intravenously.”
So far, the results have been dramatic. Dr. Lidsky says the treatment is used in combination with standard chemo and has been shown to double the survival rate.
Laflamme says, “It’s pumping on the tumor and I’m not feeling a thing.”
She adds that the treatment is working to shrink her tumor and she hopes to have surgery to remove it soon.
Laflamme says, “I know I can beat this, I have no doubt in my mind that I will, I will beat it.”
More time means more memories for Rita.
Dr. Lidsky says hepatic artery infusion is not a cure but can be used pre or post-surgery to shrink tumors in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer to the liver.
Right now, the treatment is only being offered at a handful of centers around the country.