Your Health: Bringing back an old cancer treatment

Your Health: Bringing back an old cancer treatment
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Nearly 2 million people will be told they have cancer this year.

The first line of defense typically involves chemotherapy. A harsh drug that ravages the body while killing cancer cells.

Stephen Lynch was thrown a curve ball a few years ago when a colonoscopy revealed he had cancer.

“And kind of a fear shoots through you, you know. You go from, ‘Oh, I’m healthy to no problem,’ to ‘I have a mass,’” Lynch said.

Then his thoughts went to his children.

“I want to see them grow up,” Lynch said. “And the idea that you might have some disease that robs you of being able to see that is really sad.”

Chemo and surgery held it at bay for a year, but two lesions showed up in his liver. It had advanced to stage four.

His care team recommended the only FDA approved HAI pump that delivers chemo directly to the liver.

“It’s the size of a hockey puck,” said Dr. Ryan Merkow. “We actually install it in the abdominal wall.”

A catheter attaches tot he pump, delivering chemo into a main artery feeding into the liver.

“It’s unique in that we can deliver very high doses of chemotherapy into the liver at concentrations of three to 400 times what the liver would normally seek compared to systemic chemotherapy,” Merkow said.

The chemo doesn’t exit the liver and doesn’t impact the rest of the body. With standard chemo, Lynch had a 50% chance of no recurrence, but with the new pump, his chances increase to 80%. A recent scan showed no evidence of cancer, allowing Lynch to stop worrying about cancer and focus on his family.

About 106,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year, but the rate of new cases has dropped significantly in the last 40 years because people are getting screened earlier in life.

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