- JACKSON, Mississippi, U.S.A.
- All of the PET scans were crystal clear. Every cancer cell was killed
in the targeted zones where lung tumors once had grown.
- The news was everything that was hoped for by Dr. Patrick
Sewell, an assistant professor of radiology and surgery at the University
of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) in Jackson, Miss. The results of his
China study confirmed the medical viability of his new pioneering surgical
- All nine follow-up PET scans indicate this new procedure
is killing 100 percent of targeted tumors, Sewell said in a March 7 press
conference at the medical center. His final surgery was completed the night
of March 3 in Guangzhou (pronounced "gwan-zO"), China, just before
his return to Jackson from the 16-day-trip.
- These findings could give lung cancer patients a favorable
alternative to traditional treatments and change the way lung cancer surgery
is performed worldwide.
- Sewell developed the interventional radiology procedure
-- called radiofrequency of the lung tumor ablation -- and is considered
the world's authority on it. He performed it for the first time in the
world at UMC about a year ago. The Guangzhou, China, Study marked the first
time the procedure's effectiveness on primary tumors was tested and the
first time follow-up PET scans were performed.
- "It's so good for the patients," Sewell explained,
"that they can be treated so completely, so quickly, so safely and
so cheaply with this procedure.
- "It makes perfect scientific sense," he added.
"But, emotionally, it's beyond belief to see patients come in and
go so quickly and their tumors are treated. Even as much as I believe in
this procedure, it's still hard to believe."
- Dr. Ralph Vance, an oncologist and UMC professor of medicine,
said, "In the 20 years I've been treating cancer, this procedure has
the potential for being the greatest thing that's ever come about."
- Vance accompanied Sewell on the first trip to China,
in October, and designed the protocols for the surgeries in the latest
trip, which officially is named the Guangzhou, China, Study.
- The procedure kills cancer with a radiofrequency (hot)
probe, which is inserted into tumors and guided by interventional CAT scan
images. Within a day or two after their surgeries, all of the China patients
had follow-up PET (positron-emission tomography) scans, which detect metabolic
activity in live cells, such as cancer cells.
- The successful results also came earlier than expected
in the process.
- "Initially, we were going to do some of the PET
scans early and some in about four months because we didn't know if the
immediate scans would provide clear evidence of killed (cancer) cells,"
said Dr. Thomas Lawson, a pathologist and director of clinical affairs
for Radio Therapeutics Corp., the U.S. company that manufacturers the probe.
"After all, nobody had ever seen a PET scan on thermally treated lung
tissue, until now.
- "But the results were conclusive," Lawson added,
so all of the PET scans were conducted immediately. "There's no reason
to wait." Radio Therapeutics paid for the PET scans, which cost $2,000
- The Guangzhou, China, Study ideally was to have 10 patients.
Sewell saved the 10th patient position for Jackson. He will perform the
study's 10th surgery at UMC in the next several weeks.
- The study's aim was to prove this procedure kills both
metastasized (cancer that has spread) and primary (non-metastasized) tumors
of the lung. Only tumors that were isolated and surrounded by healthy tissue
qualified for the study, so follow-up PET scans could clearly evaluate
the treated area.
- The first PET scan result came in Feb. 26. It showed
no metabolic activity in the tumor area treated, nor in the area immediately
surrounding the tumor, which also was treated. That indicated all cancer
was killed in the targeted zone, Sewell explained then. "There is
increased metabolic activity, however, around the dead tumor's location,
which is a natural result of the thermal injury" to healthy (non-cancerous)
tissue. "This is exactly what we would expect to see," he said
Feb. 26. That ring of metabolic activity around the treated zone was caused
by healing of the area heated by the probe.
- In the year Sewell has performed this procedure at UMC,
all but one of his American patients had metastasized lung cancer. One,
who underwent surgery shortly before the China trip began, had primary
lung cancer. In the United States, primary lung cancer traditionally is
treated with conventional surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation.
- Among the nine Chinese patients: five had primary tumors
with no indications of metastasis, two had primary lung tumors with metastasis
and two had metastasized cancer that had spread to the lung from other
- The nine patients, who ranged and age from 38 to 78,
had surgeries that lasted from 40 minutes to 4 3/4 hours. Four were women.
All were Chinese. Their tumors ranged in size from a dime to a grapefruit.
- No China patient required general anesthesia. Eight were
treated with local anesthesia and one was treated with local anesthesia
and heavy sedation.
- In Sewell's procedure, there is less trauma to the body
and a much shorter recovery period than for conventional surgery or chemotherapy.
His procedure is much less expensive than conventional surgery and/or chemotherapy.
After his procedure, patients usually go home within a day or two.
- Five of the Chinese patients underwent surgery at the
Tumor Hospital of Guangzhou. The other four had their surgeries at one
of three Shanghai hospitals. He also lectured physicians in Beijing, Xi'an,
Guangzhou and Shanghai. As few as a dozen and as many as five bus loads
of Chinese physicians observed each of Sewell's procedures.
- "We're naming the study for Guangzhou because they
were the most enthusiastic and they found the most and the best patients
for the study," Sewell said. "The also are a hospital devoted
to the treatment of tumors."
- Note: This story has been adapted from a news release
issued by University Of Mississippi Medical Center for journalists and
other members of the public. If you wish to quote from any part of this
story, please credit University Of Mississippi Medical Center as the
original source. You may also wish to include the following link in any
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