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Implanted Chemotherapy "Pump" Becomes New Standard Treatment for Liver Metastases

PHILADELPHIA (June 11, 1999) -- Two large studies show a significant increase in survival rates when an implanted "pump" is used to deliver chemotherapy after surgery for liver metastases from colorectal cancer. Fox Chase Cancer Center participated in one of the studies and the results were presented this month at the annual meeting the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Medical oncologists at the meeting determined the results warranted an immediate change in the standard treatment of hepatic metastases from colorectal cancer.

The chemotherapy pump is implanted during liver surgery. It is the size of a pacemaker and is implanted under the skin near the liver. The pump distributes the chemotherapy directly to the liver through the main artery to the liver. Surgery alone was the previous standard treatment for liver metastases from colorectal cancer.

In the larger of the two studies, surgery alone and surgery plus the chemotherapy pump were compared. After three years, 58 percent of those who were treated with the chemotherapy pump had no recurrence. Only 34 percent of those receiving surgery alone had no recurrence.

The second study showed chemotherapy infusion to be less effective than the chemotherapy pump. In that study, the survival rates of surgery plus the chemotherapy pump were compared to surgery plus chemotherapy infusion. These results also showed an increased survival rate when the pump used. Disease-free recurrence at two years for the pump was 85 percent versus 69 percent for those receiving infusion.

"This will dramatically change the outlook for more than 10,000 patients each year," said Elin Sigurdson, M.D., Ph.D., an attending surgeon at Fox Chase. "Fortunately, at Fox Chase Cancer Center, the chemotherapy pump has been used routinely for several years. Our doctors have extensive experience using it."

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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