08 March 2011

Groundbreaking cancer procedure at UCT

The introduction of a new state of the art cancer treatment technology to South Africa will make more liver and lung tumours treatable.


The introduction of a new state of the art cancer treatment technology to South Africa will make more liver and lung tumours treatable, bringing hope to those suffering from these types of cancers.

Professor Jake Krige, Head of Liver Surgery at the University of Cape Town Private Academic Hospital (UCT PAH), performed South Africa's first ever procedure with the Accu2i percutaneous microwave tissue ablation (pMTA) system at the hospital earlier this month.

The groundbreaking procedure involved the removal of a primary cancer in the patient’s colon and treatment of three secondary cancer sites in the liver at the same time.

According to Microsulis Medical, which markets the Accu2i pMTA, the technology allows physicians to apply precise microwave energy to ablate liver cancers while avoiding the risks associated with longer, more invasive surgical interventions.

A 1.8mm diameter needle, which can be inserted via a puncture in the skin, allows physicians to ablate liver cancers up to five centimetres in diameter in a matter of minutes.

Liver cancer treatment usually involves one of the following treatments: the surgical removal of tumours, chemotherapy, or radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Sometimes a combination of these treatments is used.

Above expectations

Prof Krige said that the Accu2i pMTA performed beyond his expectations during the procedure and was easier to handle than the microwave tissue ablation technology that was available previously. The new system ablated tumours more quickly and efficiently than traditional RFA systems, achieving an ablation rate three times faster than RFA.

"The technology provides a completely new dimension to the treatment of patients with complex liver tumours," he pointed out.

The Accu2i pMTA allows larger ablations to be performed which means that this type of therapy will be an option for more liver cancer patients. The technology is also groundbreaking in that it allows patients with more severe disease to be treated, according to Microsulis Medical.

During the Cape Town procedure, which was performed on retired headmaster Mr Rudolf Visser, Prof Krige used the Accu2i pMTA to ablate two 1.5cm and one 2.5cm liver tumours.

Rudolf Visser first had symptoms of his cancer in April 2010, when he suffered severe stomach cramps. A colonoscopy detected the colon cancer and Mr Visser was treated with chemotherapy between May and November 2010, which succeeded in shrinking the liver tumours.

He was then referred to Prof Krige at the UCT PAH for advanced tertiary specialist surgical treatment.

In a four-hour operation on 9 February, Prof Krige removed half of Mr Visser’s large intestine including the primary colon cancer and the lymph nodes. Prof Krige then used intra-operative ultrasound to guide and monitor the microwave ablation of the three secondary cancers in the liver.

Procedure a success

According to Rudolf Visser's wife Poppie, the procedures were a great success and Rudolf is doing very well. "I thank God who I believe guided Professor Krige's hands during the operation and made Rudolf's recovery possible," she said.

UCT Private Academic Hospital (UCT PAH) Manager Christo Bekker suggested that Prof Krige had broken "new ground in cancer treatment in South Africa" and the hospital was immensely proud of his achievement.

"The new technique would allow some liver cancer patients to be treated who were previously thought to be untreatable," he concluded. "I think it is no exaggeration to say that this procedure is a great step forward in South African cancer medicine."  - (Health24, March 2011)

Source: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of UCT Private Academic Hospital


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