Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Delivering Chemo Directly to Tumors

Traditionally, chemotherapy is given orally in the form of pills or intravenously.  The medication would then travel through the blood stream to the affected cells and do their work.  One of the main problems with the traditional treatments is that the dosage has to be pretty high in order for it to have an effect on the tumors, which in turn results in a number of side effects (such as hair loss, vomiting, and compromised immune system).  Secondly, for brain tumors, the medication has to cross the blood-brain-barrier, further limiting its effectiveness.

We’ve been investigating a relatively new process of administering chemotherapy for brain cancer patients.  A surgeon would insert a tiny catheter into the patient’s brain, then chemo would be given in tiny drops over the course of a few days directly on the cancerous tissue.  Since the dosage is a fraction of the traditional dose, the side effects would be fewer and milder.

Obviously, the big risk is the initial surgery to insert the catheter, but this does sound like a promising new method to treat brain tumor while minimizing the side effects of traditional treatments.  There are currently clinical trials progressing in both adults and children.

This article has more information:

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