Cancer seems to have a way of deeply invading the lives of those stricken by the disease. And often, the treatments aren’t much friendlier to patients. But some recent advances in cancer treatment are helping, including some effective, minimally invasive cancer procedures performed today at Sky Ridge Medical Center.
Dr. Charles Nutting, DO, FSIR, of RIA Endovascular and Chief of Interventional Radiology, brought more with him than his medical books when he came to Sky Ridge Medical Center. Dr. Nutting carried with him the experience of performing hundreds of minimally invasive cancer procedures on patients with cancer of the liver, kidney and lung. In fact, Dr. Nutting was the first physician in the U.S. to perform a specific minimally invasive procedure back in March 2002.
Localized Radiation: A Less Invasive Cancer Treatment
“Everyone wants things done quicker, smaller and with less recovery time. We can do everything through a tiny needle stick and most patients [95%] go home the same day. Patients can be told that they have several months to live, but with this procedure many are alive years later.” —Dr. Charles Nutting
This advanced procedure for inoperable liver cancer, known as radioembolization or selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), involves injecting tiny radioactive beads smaller than the diameter of a human hair through a catheter from the groin into the liver artery supplying the tumor. Done in conjunction with imaging equipment, this technique allows for a higher, local dose of radiation to be used, without subjecting healthy tissue in the body to the radiation.
“About 70% of the patients I see with primary or metastatic liver cancer are candidates for this procedure,” says Dr. Nutting. Many of these patients have colon cancer that has metastasized, or spread, to the liver, while the rest have breast, carcinoid, neuroendocrine or melanoma tumors, according to Dr. Nutting. He also notes that Sky Ridge performs this radioembolization procedure more than any other hospital in the U.S., which is good news for Sky Ridge patients being treated for liver cancer.
High Praise for Radioembolization
“I want people to know not to give up because you are told there’s nothing that can be done. Dr. Nutting shined a light into the darkness for me.” —Jola Stettler, patient
For Jola Stettler, learning 15 months ago that she had developed ocular melanoma, or melanoma of the eye, that had metastasized to her liver, was of course challenging news. But when an oncologist, and then second and third opinions, told the 37-year-old mother of three that there was nothing they could do for her and that she had three to six months to live, she and her husband decided to look further for answers. “My husband and I found information about this radioembolization treatment on the Web,” says Jola. “That’s how we were led to Dr. Nutting.”
Prior to her first radioembolization procedure in February 2007, Jola had 18 tumors on her liver. Within three to four months after the procedure, all the smaller tumors were gone, leaving only four. Jola had another radioembolization procedure done this past November after the remaining tumors starting growing, and by January the tumors had shrunk considerably.
Interventional radiologists are uniquely skilled in using the vascular system to deliver targeted treatments via catheter throughout the body. In treating cancer patients, interventional radiologists can attack the cancer tumor from inside the body without medicating or affecting other parts of the body.
—Society of Interventional Radiology
Fast Facts: Radioembolization
- A relatively new therapy used to treat both primary and metastatic liver tumors
- Similar to chemoembolization but with the use of radioactive microspheres, or tiny beads, to kill cancer cells
- Is a palliative (relieves symptoms), not a curative, treatment
- Benefits patients by extending their lives and improving their quality of life
- Is typically performed on an outpatient basis
- Elicits fewer side effects compared with standard cancer treatments
—Society of Interventional Radiology
Learn More: RIA Endovascular
Call for appointment: 720-493-3406
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