- Title: ITALY: SCIENTISTS TAKING INNOVATIVE NEW APPROACH TO TREATMENT OF LIVER CANCER
- Date: 20th December 2002
- Summary: (EU) PAVIA, ITALY (DECEMBER 19, 2002) REUTERS MV/CU: PHYSICIST TAZIO PINELLI IN OFFICE (3 SHOTS) (EU) PAVIA, ITALY (DECEMBER 19, 2002) (REUTERS) MCU: (SOUNDBITE) (English) PHYSICIST TAZIO PINELLI SAYING: 'This operation, the entire procedure, consists of the explantation of the liver after it is infused in a solution of boron. The liver is sent to the laboratory or the nuclear reactor, it was there for 11 minutes, in the case of our patient, and after this it is returned to the hospital, to the surgery for reimplantation.'
- Embargoed: 4th January 2003 12:00
- Location: PAVIA, ITALY EUROPE 19 DECEMBER 2002 EDIT: 433
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Health
- Reuters ID: LVA1CNDY6HCAPBFK99UEA7YU97RI
- Story Text: Italian scientists have taken a new approach to treating liver cancer by removing the organ, dosing it with radiation and then replacing it in the patient.
The first patient to have the innovative cancer treatment at the San Matteo Hospital in Pavia, northern Italy was a 48-year-old man who is still cancer-free a year after the 21-hour operation. The man was treated for more than 14 cancerous tumors in his liver.
The original patient had cancer of the colon, which had spread to the liver. The cancer didi not respond to chemotherapy and was so widespread that conventional radiotherapy would have destroyed the liver.
The Italian scientists decided to try boron neutron capture therapy which they have been working on since 1987 and which was first attempted in the 1950s.
"This operation, the entire procedure, consists of the explantation of the liver after it is infused in a solution of boron. The liver is sent to the laboratory or the nuclear reactor, it was there for 11 minutes, in the case of our patient, and after this it is returned to the hospital, to the surgery for reimplantation' explained physicist Tazio Pinelli at his office in Pavia.
The treatment involves injecting a fluid containing boron atoms into the patient and using a low-energy neutron beam to split the boron into particles that kill the cancerous cells.
But an even dose of neutrons is needed to treat the entire organ and bones in the body can block the beam so the surgeons removed the liver, treated it and then replaced it in the body.
"The patient after this treatment has been controlled every three months with nothing being discovered no cancer, no cancerous cells in the blood" Pinelli said.
Surgeon Aris Zonta and physicist Tazio Pinelli of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Italy, who co-ordinated the procedure are now waiting approval to treat six other patients with multiple tumors.
"We have about six patients, they are all very young, about 30 years. We hope to treat these people in the first few months of the new year. We are confident, very confident to obtain the same results for them as for the first person"
Although the treatment, which has been dubbed "Taormina", was successful and could give new hope to seriously ill patients it would only be suitable for patients whose cancer has spread to only one other organ. The patients also need to be strong enough to survive the operation.
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