A study from MSK found that patients with colorectal cancer spreading to the liver live longer when they receive an additional treatment called hepatic arterial infusion (HAI).
The largest retrospective study ever done on a chemotherapy delivery approach called hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) has shown that this treatment extends survival by about two years when used in addition to systemic chemotherapy. Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), the study looked back at patients who were able to undergo surgical removal of colorectal cancer that had spread to the liver. It included patients treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering over a 20-year period.
“This is not a treatment that many other hospitals are using,” says study co-author Nancy Kemeny, an MSK medical oncologist who helped develop the current procedure for using HAI and who has been a proponent of the therapy for decades. “We get patients coming here from all over because they’ve heard about our expertise with this treatment.”
Colon and rectal cancers, which together affect more than 135,000 people in the United States every year, are often curable when caught early, but when they spread, they are much more difficult to treat.
HAI employs a pump about the size and shape of a hockey puck that’s surgically implanted in the abdomen and delivers chemotherapy directly to the liver. The pump is placed under the skin between the ribs and pelvis. It is then connected to the hepatic artery, which supplies blood to the liver, and especially to liver tumors. The pump is usually inserted at the same time a patient has surgery to remove tumors in the liver. HAI is called an adjuvant treatment, and it provides a way to offer extra cancer-fighting power and eliminate any residual disease.