One of the few treatment options for liver cancer patients is now being offered at the great lakes cancer institute at Ingham Regional Medical Center.
Dr. David Litvak has received specialized training in the use of radiofrequency ablation therapy, a procedure that uses electrical energy to create heat to destroy liver tumors.
"The patients with liver cancer have few options if they're not one of the patients that can have tumors removed, and if they don't respond to chemotherapy. They have significant side effects or the tumors don't respond," Dr. Litvak.
During the procedure the prod is directly inserted into the tumor, the tines heat up to 120 degrees and kill only the cancer cells, saving the surrounding healthy issues of the liver. But as successful as the procedure has been, there are still some patients who can't be treated with RFA.
"Maybe they come too late in treatment or they develop too many tumors or they're too big to be treated adequately," said Dr. Litvak.
Recovery depends on the size and number of tumors, but patients can generally go home the day of treatment or within three days, and unlike other treatments there are few risks or uncomfortable side effects. Patient follow up usually begins a months after the procedure and if the tumor recurs, in most cases, RFA can be used again.
Sucess rates have been so high among liver cancer patients, studies are underway to see if it can treat breast, lung or bone cancer.