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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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DeBakey VA Sets the Standard in Delivering More Treatment Options for Liver Cancer

April 17, 2009

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“This technology is applicable for a wide variety of liver tumors, but is particularly effective on patients with liver tumors in the context of liver cirrhosis. Our VA hospital is among the first centers to offer this technique and we believe it is going to greatly enhance our capacity to treat more effectively a wider veteran patient population.” said Daniel Albo, M.D., chief of General Surgery and Surgical Oncology, above, examining Marine Veteran Charles Clay.
Photo: Fran Burke, Public Affairs Specialist


One of the First VA Hospitals to Use New Microwave Technology

HOUSTON – Physicians at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) now have a powerful new tool with industry-leading microwave technology to ablate soft tissue and effectively treat liver cancer.

Surgical resection is the standard of care for the treatment of liver cancer, but the disease can also be treated with liver transplant, arterial embolization, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and thermal ablation therapy.

Liver cancer is the fourth most-common cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Median survival of a patient with liver cancer without surgery is nine months. Only 20 percent of patients with colorectal metastases confined to the liver are surgical candidates for tumor removal.

The Evident™ MV microwave ablation system is intended for coagulation of soft tissue during percutaneous, laparoscopic, and open surgical procedures. Microwave energy emanates from the feed point of the radiating section of the antenna, causing coagulation of the tissue. The system then creates heat by generating friction through the vibration of water molecules. With microwave ablation, there is no current flow through the patient, eliminating the need for grounding pads.

A study comparing Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation (RFA), RFA plus resection, and chemotherapy alone concluded that survival following RFA as sole therapy was significantly greater than just chemotherapy. hepatocellular carcinoma patients treated with RFA had comparable survival rates as those treated with surgical resection.

“Microwave ablation represents a great advance in our ability to treat patients with liver tumors. It is a very effective ablation technique that seems to be superior to other ablation techniques in some patients with liver cancer,” said Daniel Albo, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of General Surgery and Surgical Oncology who is among the first surgeons in the VA health care system to employ this new treatment modality. “It is also much faster, allowing for shorter operative times and faster recovery. We use a minimally invasive approach for this technique, minimizing patient discomfort and greatly expediting full recovery for our patients.”

“I am very appreciative of the work of Dr. Albo and his team’s work on my liver tumors. I received this treatment through two tiny incisions and was able to go home the same day. I returned to my normal activities very quickly and I am currently free of cancer,” said Marine Veteran Charles Clay.

This major technological advance allows surgical oncologists, interventional radiologists, hepatobiliary surgeons, and other medical specialists to perform percutaneous, laparoscopic, or open surgical soft tissue ablation, and in less time than other forms of ablation. This new technology can take 10 minutes or less. The speed and efficiency of this microwave ablation system may mean less time in the operating or radiology suite and less time that patients will spend under anesthesia.

“There are a great many advanced treatment options for liver cancer and tumors on the horizon. The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center constantly strives to open new doors and make these alternatives available for our Veterans,” said David H. Berger, M.D., Operative Care Line executive.

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