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David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center

The best prognosis for people with cancer comes with early detection, when the disease is still manageable. Unfortunately, many people don’t find out that they have cancer until it's already in an advanced state.

When a tumor becomes too advanced or spreads to other areas, surgery alone may not be an option or sufficient.

Other treatment approaches — such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy — may also not work well enough in advanced or late-stage cancers. Some people with advanced cancers may be too sick to handle the effects of traditional chemotherapy.

For some late-stage and advanced cancers, regional perfusion may be an option.

If you're not able to have surgery, the David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center may be able to help. We offer treatments that may extend and improve your life.

Contact Us About Regional Perfusion Cancer Treatment

Surgeons see Koch Center patients at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside.

To learn more about regional perfusion therapy, contact the David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center or call UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at 412-692-2852.

How Regional Perfusion Works

Regional perfusion differs from traditional chemotherapy in a few ways.

Traditional chemotherapy

In traditional chemotherapy, oncologists deliver chemotherapy drugs by IV (through the bloodstream) or by mouth or rectum. The drugs kill the cancer cells, but may also kill other healthy cells around the body.

Regional perfusion

Regional perfusion delivers high concentrations of chemotherapy agents directly to the site of the cancer. The treatment circulates chemo drugs through an organ or within a defined region. This bathes the cancer in the drugs while reducing damage to other healthy tissues.

As an added benefit, hair loss and nausea are not normally associated with regional perfusion.

Cancers That Respond Well to Regional Perfusion

Certain types of advanced cancers respond particularly well to regional perfusion:

Perfusion Treatments for Late-stage and Advanced Cancers

The type of regional perfusion therapy you receive depends on the type and location of your cancer.

Treatments may include:

  • Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion (HIPEC) — this surgical technique may begin with the surgeon removing as much of the tumor as possible (cytoreduction). Then, he or she inserts two tubes: one to deliver the heated chemotherapy solution to the tumor and another to return the fluid to the heating equipment. The chemotherapy solution circulates for one and a half hours during the surgery to kill the cancer cells.
  • Hyperthermic intrathoracic chemotherapy (HITHOC) — after cytoreduction, the surgeon inserts a tube to deliver the heated chemotherapy solution to the chest cavity and another tube to return the fluid to the heating equipment. The chemotherapy drugs circulate for one hour to kill the cancer cells confined to the chest cavity.
  • Isolated hepatic perfusion (IHP) — the surgeon infuses a high concentration of heated chemotherapy drugs into the liver. He or she completely separates the liver's (hepatic) circulatory system from the rest of the body’s circulatory system. This is an open surgery because it requires a large incision to expose the organs and tissues.
  • Hepatic artery infusion (HAI) — surgeons place a small tube (catheter) into the blood supply of the liver and attach the tube to a small device (port or pump) placed under the patient’s skin. Once the patient has recovered from surgery, the pump/port can be used to deliver high dose chemotherapy directly to the liver on a regular basis.
  • Transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) — in this procedure, interventional radiologists administer anticancer drugs directly to the tumor. This blocks the blood supply to the tumor. It also allows a higher concentration of medicine to be in contact with the tumor for a longer time.
  • Yttrium-90 internal radiation therapy — this technique delivers targeted radiation directly to liver tumors via a catheter in the artery. Tiny beads (microspheres) contain a radioactive element called yttrium-90. Because blood vessels that sustain tumors are smaller than those that feed healthy tissue, the beads get stuck in the smaller blood vessels and deliver radiation directly to the tumor. Side effects are often minimal.

About the David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center

Our center is a specialized cancer treatment facility. We also have rich research and training programs.

Research gives patients the chance to participate in clinical trials of new drugs and approaches to regional perfusion.

By taking part in a clinical trial, you can gain access to the most advanced treatments possible while adding to the growing body of knowledge about regional perfusion.

Our academic programs provide perfusion training for surgeons and fellows.