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New Treatment Option for Liver Cancer Offered in Springfield

New technology at a local hospital offers hope for those suffering from liver cancer. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more…

An innovative treatment for liver cancer is being offered at CoxHealth in Springfield. It’s called the Covidien Evident Microwave Ablation System…

"It provides a way to destroy the tumor and thoroughly destroy it so it can't grow back."

Dr. Charlies Woodall, a physician at CoxHealth, was introduced to the technology while completing his surgical oncology training at the University of Louisville. In fact, the university was testing the 1st such system in the United States when he arrived. It’s been available in Springfield for about three months and is the 1st of its kind in Missouri.Dr. Woodall says the Covidien Evident Microwave Ablation System offers another treatment option for those with liver cancer…

"Obviously, anyone that has a tumor in their liver, the best option is always to take it out, but for a lot of people that's not feasible because they either have too many tumors or they don't have enough liver that would be left behind to provide them with adequate function, so the device is very good at destroying the tumor and getting rid of it."

He says the technology provides maximal tumor destruction while also offering maximal preservation of the liver. It works like the microwave in your kitchen. An ultrasound machine or CAT scanner is used to insert an antenna directly in to the tumor…

"And then we turn on the machine, and it generates an electromagnetic spectrum of energy that causes the water that's in all of our bodies to start spinning around, the tiny atoms to start spinning around. That causes breaking of the bonds, and that creates friction and heat and when that does that cooks the tumor basically."

A patient may or may not have to be under general anesthesia for the procedure.According to Dr. Woodall, the Covidien Evident Microwave Ablation System has several benefits over older technologies such as radio frequency ablation. For example, most procedures can be completed in a much shorter time frame, and multiple tumors can be treated at once. A common side effect of radio frequency ablations is burns on the skin, but Dr. Woodall says they don’t see that with microwave ablation.About eight procedures have been done so far at Cox…

"I've seen literally as many liver cancer cases hereas I saw at the University of Louisville, which was a major referral center for cancer therapy for the entire western half of Kentucky, so the patients are definitely out there, and these are people that were going to St. Louis or having to go to Kansas City to get their therapy, and now we can provide that care closer to home."

Dr. Woodall says he’s used the technology the most so far for those with metastatic colorectal cancer and those with primary liver cancer. He says stage four colon cancer used to be a death sentence, but today there are a lot of treatment options. Having a full tool belt to go into it with, he says, certainly helps.