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FDA Approves Implanted "Pump" For Delivery of Chemotherapy; Used at Fox Chase Cancer Center For Standard Treatment for Liver Metastases

PHILADELPHIA (July 24, 2000) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an implantable "pump" for use in treating colon cancer that has spread to the liver. The delivery of chemotherapy directly to the liver, has been researched for more than two decades at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

After surgery to remove liver tumors, direct infusion of chemotherapy agents into the liver -- a treatment called hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) therapy -- holds great promise for keeping the cancer in check. Elin R. Sigurdson, M.D., Ph.D., director of surgical research at Fox Chase Cancer Center, has studied HAI therapy extensively for 20 years.

"There are two reasons why patients respond better to treatment with the pump than to traditional treatment," said Sigurdson. "First, the pump delivers the drug directly into the liver; it's not diluted in the blood. The second reason is that we can actually give much larger doses of the same type of drug than we can give systemically because the drug is cleared by the liver. As a result, response rates tend to be much higher."

The Medtronic IsoMed Constant-Flow Infusion System safely and accurately delivers high concentrations of floxuridine (FUDR) on a continuous basis directly to the liver through the hepatic artery, the main blood supply for liver tumors. The drug pump is surgically placed under the skin of the abdomen and filled with the appropriate medication. A catheter that runs from the pump to the hepatic artery delivers medication at a constant rate from the pump into the liver.

Fox Chase Cancer Center participated in one of the two studies where surgery alone was compared with surgery plus chemotherapy infusion via the arterial pump. After three years, 58 percent of those who were treated with the chemotherapy pump had no recurrence. Thirty-four percent of those receiving surgery alone had no recurrence. The use of the pump is now standard treatment of care for liver metastases at Fox Chase. Surgery alone was the previous standard treatment for liver metastases from colorectal cancer.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at:

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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