A new way to zap cancer

George Pittman is back in class and back in the saddle.

He's a volunteer math and science tutor and he just loves watching little minds grow.

Also growing in this prostate cancer survivor: malignant melanoma like these in his left leg.  Doctors cut out four in less than a year.

Mercy Medical Center's Vadim Gushchin treated him with an intense, isolated blast of chemotherapy.  Using small catheters like this one, surgeons infused a massive dose of chemo into George's leg alone.

The procedure took just 30 minutes.

In a third of cases though all nodules disappear.   The old method meant larger incisions and catheters.  This is minimally invasive all-around.

Good news for George who got back to class as fast as he could.

Getting back up to speed shouldn't be a problem.

More information on next page.

BACKGROUND: Chemo Blast is a surgical procedure to allow you to get high doses of chemotherapy only in one limb (an arm or leg). The benefit of method is that you do not get effects of the anticancer treatment in other areas of your body. After years of advancements, Isolated Limb Infusion -- or ILI -- is a minimally invasive technique that uses the same principles of regional high-dose chemotherapy but through smaller catheters. These specific catheters allow are similarly used by cardiologists to study vessels of the heart. For many people, ILI is the only option to avoid amputation. (Source: Mercy Medical Center)

WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE OR: You will be admitted to the hospital and should expect to stay for four to five days. This procedure is done in the surgery area. You will receive general anesthesia. The limb to be treated will be warmed to help the chemotherapy have the most effect. A type of tourniquet is used to stop the flow of blood in and out of the limb being treated. This also prevents the chemotherapy from spreading throughout your body. The chemotherapy will be given through an incision into a major artery and vein in the limb to be treated. After surgery you will have a bandage (dressing) over the surgical site. If you had any lymph nodes removed during the surgery you will likely have a drain in place to prevent fluid build-up. You may spend the first night in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit where you will have frequent attention. The pulse, color, sensation and movement will be checked often on the affected limb. You will be given medication to help control pain.
Before discharge you and your caregivers will be instructed about all your care needs. After you go home you will still need to care for your wound, for a drain, to manage swelling. (Source: The Ohio State University Medical Center)


Wound infection/separation: You will be told how to care for the surgery site after you leave the hospital.

Nerve damage: You may have damage to nerves in the limb treated with chemotherapy or from swelling that may occur after the procedure.

Pain: You will be checked and treated for pain while in the hospital. Pain medication will be used to help control pain after your discharge as well.

Swelling or Lymphedema: The treated limb will have a tendency to swell. You will be given instruction how you can help manage swelling. This may include patient education handouts to help you care for this condition.

Skin changes: The skin on the treated limb will be discolored and may peel. Gentle skin lotions with no alcohol may be used. The lotion should not be used near the incision or wound.

Blood clots or vein inflammation: These are more rare complications. It is possible but not likely that blood clots may develop in the artery or vein of the treated limb.

Stacey Sherman
Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy Medical Center
(410) 332-9349

(Information provided by Ivanhoe)

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