Treating Cancer with IO Therapies
Two main treatment types have been used to treat certain cancers:
- Intraarterial therapy for liver cancer (primary and secondary or metastatic): These procedures called chemoembolization and radioembolization use the body’s blood vessel, namely the artery, as a roadway or pathway to the tumor in the liver. Using angiographic guidance (X-ray) live, a tiny plastic tube as thin as a hair (catheter) is inserted into the artery that supplies the blood flow directly to the liver tumor. Highly concentrated doses of chemotherapy or radiation microbeads are then injected directly to the tumor in order to kill it. Because the healthy liver tissue is supplied by the vein (as opposed to the artery), it is not affected by the treatment. Because such procedures are performed under direct visual guidance, they are extremely precise and the technical success is guaranteed.
- Ablation therapy for liver, kidney and lung cancer: These procedures are typically performed under ultrasound, MRI or computed tomography (CT) guidance live to insert a needle through the skin in order to burn or freeze the tumor. Because of the sophistication of the imaging equipment used for guidance, precise targeting of the tumor is guaranteed. As with the intraarterial therapies, the healthy tissue is left untouched minimizing or even eliminating any toxic side effects.
Regardless of the above treatment chosen to treat a patient’s cancer, there is no need to stay overnight in a hospital and therefore patients can return home the same day.
Why Are People Choosing IO Over Surgery?
In general, IO procedures are reserved for patients whose cancer cannot be surgically removed or effectively treated with systemic chemotherapy. Such procedures can also be used to treat cancerous tumors that are numerous or in areas that would preclude open surgery from being performed. Patients who are not eligible for open surgery may instead choose to pursue an IO therapy. Another indication and application of IO therapies is to shrink large tumors that cannot be treated surgically due to their size. By shrinking the tumors, a patient may then become eligible to undergo a surgical procedure successfully. This is called “bridging” a patient’s cancer to surgery. When compared to invasive surgeries, minimally invasive procedures cause less pain, have fewer side effects, and offer a shorter recovery time.
In addition, one of the main advantages of IO therapies because of their reliance on the precision of image‐guidance to enhance cancer care is its impact the overall quality of the patients’ life. Not only can IO treatments treat cancer within the body, but it can also reduce pain associated with these tumors, thereby improving patients’ quality of life. Today, IO increasingly plays a critical role in cancer diagnosis (e.g., biopsy and examination), cancer therapy (e.g., embolization or ablation therapies), and palliation for cancer symptoms (e.g., reducing cancer-related pain). Because of its reliance on cutting edge technology (imaging and tools for the procedures), IO is extremely innovative and has allowed cancer patients the option to choose a unique, non-surgical approach for their treatment. These effective, FDA-approved therapies have helped hundreds of thousands of cancer patients without the need for hospitalization or surgical interventions.
Diagnosing patients with cancer
Diagnosing cancer is extremely important as precise diagnosis and determining the type of cancer a patient suffers from can impact the treatment option that is selected. In order to determine such a diagnosis, tissue must be obtained directly form the cancer. This is typically accomplished by inserting tiny needle under live imaging guidance into the tumor in order to obtain the necessary tissue that can then be subsequently analyzed. Such procedures are also performed by interventional oncologists and do not require hospitalization. They can be performed at our offices and patients can go home the same day.