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New treatment gives hope to patients with inoperable liver cancer

New treatment gives hope to patients with inoperable liver cancer

Dr. Gary Siskin, professor and chairman of radiology at Albany Medical Center, is using a breakthrou

Thomas Bennett felt like he’d been hit by a ton of bricks when he learned he had colon cancer that had spread to his liver.

“I had no symptoms,” said Bennett, 52, of North Greenbush, who got the diagnosis in October 2005. “The only reason I’m alive is when I turned 50, I decided I needed a colonoscopy.”

In November 2005, doctors removed Bennett’s colon. One month later, he started chemotherapy.

Because liver cancer is one of the most lethal types of cancer, one surgeon gave him six to 18 months to live.

Then Bennett’s oncologist referred him to Dr. Gary Siskin, professor and chairman of radiology at Albany Medical Center.

Siskin is using a breakthrough treatment for inoperable liver cancer called TheraSphere.

According to Siskin, TheraSphere is an outpatient procedure with few side effects that uses millions of microscopic glass beads that are injected into the main artery of the liver through a small tube or catheter that is inserted into a small incision in the patient’s groin.

The radioactive beads are delivered directly into the tumor via the blood vessels that feed it. The radiation destroys tumor cells from within the tumor with minimal injury to the surrounding tissue.

“What happens is we send thousands of these spheres into the artery going into the liver, and those spheres distribute themselves into the liver,” Siskin explained. “More of them go into the tumor because there are more blood vessels bringing blood to the tumor than there is to normal liver.”

Read the complete story in Tuesday's edition of The Daily Gazette.

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