NY Methodist Expands Treatment Options for Liver Cancer

March 28, 2013 Editorial Staff
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For patients with liver cancer, the spectrum of treatment options offered by New York Methodist Hospital (NYM) is broad. Continuing advances in technology and additions to NYM’s staff have enabled the Hospital to customize its approach to liver cancer treatment, ensuring that patients with malignant liver tumors have the best chance of beating the disease.

“If a patient has cancer in the liver and it has not spread to other parts of the body, then we know one thing: there is some way to remove that cancer entirely, and to limit the chance of a recurrence,” said Smruti Mohanty, M.D., chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at NYM. “However, the challenge is finding the best treatment, or combination of treatments, for that patient’s cancer. Whatever circumstances patients face, NYM offers treatments that can help them turn the tables on liver cancer.”

Although the majority of liver cancer tumors are inoperable, one in three patients with liver tumors are candidates for liver resection – the complete surgical removal of the tumor itself and the affected area immediately around it. Liver cancer resections are complicated surgeries; at NYM they are performed by Syed Shah, M.D., the hospital’s chief of hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery. Board certified in surgery and critical care, Dr. Shah specializes in expertly performing some of the most demanding surgical procedures.

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If a patient’s tumors are relatively small, and have not extensively damaged other parts of the liver, ablation techniques that destroy tumors without removing them may be the ideal options to eliminate liver cancer without surgery.

“At NYM, we recently added a new technique called microwave ablation (MWA) to our lineup of treatment options,” said Leonard Berliner, M.D., chief of vascular and interventional radiology. “MWA involves the use of a long, thin tube (catheter) to insert a small antenna deep inside a tumor, and then ‘broadcast’ microwave energy to kill the cells from the inside out. MWA allows us to treat multiple cancer tumors at once, to kill cancer cells quickly, and to attack larger tumors than we were previously able to treat with other ablation techniques.

If cancer has destroyed too much of the liver for it to function, there may only be one option: replacing the liver entirely through transplantation. As a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, NYM serves as a major transplant referral center, assessing patients as candidates for liver transplant and remaining closely involved in their care before and after the procedure. Once a patient is determined to need a liver transplant, the goal becomes “bridging” the patient to that transplant with careful monitoring of the disease, since the wait time for a liver transplant can be lengthy.

“Over 20,000 Americans are diagnosed with primary liver cancer each year, and in over 70 percent of those cases, the disease is fatal,” said Mohanty. “A multi-pronged, custom approach to treating liver cancer is crucial in evening those odds. NYM has a growing list of options for liver cancer treatment, but we know that the best treatment for a patient with liver cancer will always be one-of-a-kind.”

To find a physician affiliated with New York Methodist Hospital’s Center for Liver Diseases, please call the Institute for Digestive and Liver Disorders, 866.DIGEST1 (866-344-3781).

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