Beaumont study uses heat to attack liver cancer


Researchers at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak are recruiting people with liver cancer for research that uses heat to destroy tumors.

The heat is generated in a procedure called radiofrequency ablation. The procedure uses electrical energy to create radio waves that in turn produce heat used to destroy cancer cells.

About 120 participants will take part in the national study, which is sponsored by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network.

"At this time, surgery offers the only cure for liver cancer," says Michael Savin, M.D., interventional radiologist and principal investigator of the study at Beaumont. "In this study we're hoping to find out whether radiofrequency ablation, a minimally invasive alternative to surgery for patients who cannot undergo surgery, is an effective treatment as well."

Participants will be in the study for about three years. In addition to radiofrequency ablation, they will be asked to provide their medical history; and to undergo imaging such as ultrasound, CT and MRI; lab tests; electrocardiogram; physical examination; biopsies; anesthesia; and evaluation of their ability to perform activities of daily living. These steps are part of regular cancer care, and are covered by insurance.

The most prevalent side effect of the ablation procedure is post-ablation syndrome, which occurs in about 30 percent of patients. This may include fever and flu-like symptoms, fatigue and pain in the joints. Patients usually treat the side effects by taking over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Call Beaumont's department of Radiology at 248-898-7106 for more information.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 18,510 new cases of primary liver cancer and bile duct cancer will be diagnosed in the United States during 2006. It is about twice as common in men as in women. About 16,200 people will die of liver cancer in the United States this year.

Other minimally invasive treatments for liver cancer, including chemoembolization, radioembolization and cryoablation are also performed by interventional radiologists at Beaumont Hospital. The hospital was the only site in Michigan to participate in a groundbreaking study that showed digital mammography is better for some women. In addition to digital mammography, the department also offers a full array of imaging services, including X-ray, MRI, CT and PET, some of which are offered at the hospital's eight community-based medical centers. In addition to treatment for liver cancer, radiologists within the department offer treatment for uterine fibroid tumors and varicose veins.