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The RenovoRx double balloon catheter device allows physicians to deliver high doses of chemotherapy directly to pancreatic
tumors. Physicians at ECU's Brody School of Medicine are the first in the mid-Atlantic region to offer the localized treatment option to patients, which may shrink tumors more effectively. (Contributed graphic)
Physicians offers novel treatment for pancreatic cancer
June 7, 2016
By Amy Adams EllisUniversity Communication
Physicians at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine are the
first in the mid-Atlantic region to offer a new treatment option for pancreatic
cancer. The treatment involves the use of a novel catheter-based system, the
RenovoRx double balloon catheter device, to allow the physician to deliver high
doses of chemotherapy directly to the pancreatic tumor, resulting in
potentially superior outcomes and fewer adverse side effects.
Conventional chemotherapy treatment options deliver the chemotherapy
“systemically,” meaning it is injected into and travels throughout the
bloodstream, reaching and affecting all cells throughout the body.
The new treatment option – similar to a cardiac catheterization procedure
– involves threading a catheter through the patient’s vascular system to
deliver chemotherapy directly to the pancreas via the blood vessel segment
around the tumor. Two tiny balloons on the catheter are inflated to prevent the
flow of blood in and out of the blood vessel, allowing the physician to
administer an infusion of chemotherapy directly to the tumor while avoiding the
surrounding, non-cancerous tissue.
This more targeted and localized approach allows the oncology team to
deliver a significantly higher dose of chemotherapy because there is a much
lower risk of it reaching and affecting other organs. This approach to therapy
may shrink pancreatic tumors more effectively than conventional chemotherapy,
which may help pancreatic cancer patients who previously were not candidates
for surgical intervention because their tumors had invaded surrounding blood
vessels essential for survival. It is being offered to patients in eastern
North Carolina as part of a registry trial that carefully documents and follows
tumor response, treatment side effects and long-term outcomes.
“This catheter provides a viable treatment option for patients with
locally advanced pancreatic cancer with potentially fewer side effects than other,
more conventional approaches,” said Dr. Emmanuel Zervos, chief of the Division
of Surgical Oncology at Brody and the trial’s principal investigator. “It has
the potential to provide a higher therapeutic dose of chemotherapy to possibly
shrink tumors enough so they can be removed surgically.
“Our multi-disciplinary team, including Dr. Prashanti Atluri, assistant
professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Brody, and Dr. Chris
Thomas, vascular/interventional radiologist with Eastern Radiologists, is
dedicated to providing our patients with every possible opportunity for cure,”
Since the first patient was treated with the RenovoCath system early last
year, dozens of others have been successfully treated with it in several major
U.S. medical centers.
Patients facing pancreatic cancer typically have few treatment options
available to them, and the disease is almost always fatal. According to the
National Institutes of Health, nearly 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with
pancreatic cancer in 2016. The 5-year survival rate is only about 6 percent,
partly because the disease is so difficult to diagnose.
Surgery to remove part or all of the pancreas is the best treatment option
with the highest rate of success, but fewer than 15 percent of patients with
pancreatic cancer are eligible for surgery. The pancreas is hidden behind the
stomach, so tumors often go unnoticed until they have grown to a size where
they interfere with the digestive tract or spread to other parts of the body.
At that stage, most are inoperable.
Pancreatic tumors typically have very few blood vessels supplying blood
to them, making them difficult to treat with conventional chemotherapy and
*Interested patients should contact nurse navigator Kim Gardner at 252-717-1931.