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First liver cancer ‘chemo-bath’ in the UK

November 13, 2012
"Previously, the outlook for patients specifically suffering from cancer which has spread to the liver has been poor because standard chemotherapy's effect is limited by the unwanted damage the drug causes to the rest of the body."
- Dr Brian Stedman

A "chemo-bath" which delivers toxic cancer drugs to just one organ in the body has been used on patients in the UK for the first time, say doctors.

A "chemo-bath" which delivers toxic cancer drugs to just one organ in the body has been used on patients in the UK for the first time, say doctors.

Chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly growing cells such as cancers, but they also attack healthy parts of the body.

Doctors at Southampton General Hospital believe targeting just one organ can prevent side effects.

They also say it means they can give higher doses without causing damage to the patient.

Chemotherapy drugs are normally injected into the veins of patients. However, the whole body, rather than just the tumour, is exposed. It results in side effects such as fatigue, feeling sick, hair loss and damage to fertility.

Targeted
Two patients in the UK have now received chemotherapy focused on just their liver. Both had a rare eye cancer which had spread to the liver.

The operation works by inflating balloons inside blood vessels on either side of the liver to isolate it from the rest of the body.

The liver is then pumped full of chemotherapy drugs, which are filtered out before the liver is reconnected to the main blood supply.

It means only a tiny fraction of the chemotherapy dose ends up in the body.

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