BUFFALO, NY--Renewed interest in cryosurgery may soon translate into a viable therapeutic option for patients with primary and secondary liver cancers.
"The field of hepatic cryosurgery is wide open for original research," Miguel Rodriguez-Bigas, MD, said at a conference on multidisciplinary cancer care sponsored by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where he is a surgical oncol-ogist. The conference was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology.
Important research may emerge from the Hepatic Cryosurgery Center, recently established by Roswell Park's Division of Surgical Oncology, under the direction of Nicholas J. Petrelli, MD.
The Center, Dr. Rodriguez-Bigas said, will offer "innovative treatment regimens for unresectable hepatocellular carcinomas and metastatic neoplasms from soft tissue sarcomas, neuroendocrine tumors, and colorectal cancer."
He also suggested that cryosurgery may be beneficial in palliating systemic symptoms caused by unresectable, hormonally active hepatic metastases. "There is an immunological response to hepatic cryosurgery," he noted, "that has yet to be characterized."
Because the amount of normal tissue frozen can be controlled, tumors in multiple hepatic segments can be treated and, on occasion, re-treated if they recur. The most common side effects--elevations in liver function tests, fever, and throm-bocytopenia--are usually transient, Dr. Rodriguez-Bigas said.
Roswell Park's current cryosurgical studies are assessing outcome and tumor response, and will clarify some of the treatment "unknowns," including identifying the best candidates.