September 27, 2011

New Treatment Reduces Melanoma Growth

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers set their eyes on a new treatment! Patients that have been affected by melanoma of the eye, ocular or uveal melanoma, die within an average of two to four months once the disease has spread to the liver due to ineffective treatment.  Only about one in ten patients live for a year.  A recent study has found that with a new treatment patients may be able to reduce the growth of the disease.

James Pingpank, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania told the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress that the average length of time that patients survived without the spread of disease in the liver was an average of 8.1 months for those receiving the new treatment, compared to 1.6 months in the group of patients that had been chosen at random to receive alternative care.

The new treatment is called percutaneous hepatic perfusion (PHP) and is designed to saturate the liver with high doses of chemotherapy without affecting the rest of the body.

The study took place in nine U.S clinics, 93 patients were randomly picked to receive PHP or best alternative care (BAC), which was decided by the patient's treatment team.
As the study was not designed to show an overall survival benefit, and most of the patients had no other treatment options available to them, patients were allowed to cross over from the BAC group of the study to the PHP group once the benefits of PHP became apparent.
PHP patients had an overall progression-free survival time of 6.1 months compared to 1.6 months in the BAC group.
Furthermore, since 51 percent of patients crossed over from the BAC group to the PHP group, survival was not significantly effected between the two groups: 11.4 months on PHP compared to 9.9 months on BAC.  However, those patients who did cross over seemed to do well despite being amongst the sickest, surviving for 9.2 months without the disease progressing in the liver, and 6.5 months without any overall progression of the disease.

For a disease that currently has few treatment options and no change of a cure,  Professor Pingpank was quoted as stating that PHP offers patients extra months of , usually, good quality life.Although the adverse effects of PHP were more severe than BAC, they were short-lived including: low white blood cell count and low platelet count.

 PHP potentially could be used for other cancers that have spread to the liver. "We have demonstrated efficacy in a phase II setting for patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors [2], so the application of this technology is likely to expand to other tumor types," Professor Pingpank was quoted as stating.

SOURCE:, published online September 23, 2011