GULF SHORES, Ala., July 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Many patients find that after receiving image-guided cancer ablation, their bodies experience an anti-cancer immune response in which their immune system attacks untreated live tumors. Dr. Jason R. Williams of the American Cancer Ablation Center and Precision Imaging (http://www.cancerablation.com) is taking measures to enhance this response by combining the body's natural reaction to an ablated tumor with injections of immune-stimulating medications, essentially creating a "tumor vaccine" for ablation patients.
Percutaneous image-guided cancer ablation is a cutting-edge minimally invasive technique that has proven effective for treating cancer in the lung, liver, breast, prostate and kidney. It is also used in certain cases to treat painful bone tumors. The procedure consists of placing a needle into the tumor using image guidance, such as computed tomography (CT), and then applying energy in the form of extreme heat or cold to the needle, resulting in the destruction of the tumor. The standard technique involves the use of microwave or radiofrequency energy to apply heat or compressed gases to freeze the tumor.
The immune response boost comes from the last element of the procedure, which is the dead tumor being left inside the body. This means that the immune system has to clean up the dead tumor, and the activity often stimulates the system to attack live tumors elsewhere in the body. "We have seen cases where the patient does indeed seem to get an anti-cancer immune boost," said Dr. Williams, who has been performing image-guided cancer ablation for 10 years. "In fact, patients treated with ablation have seen shrinkage of non-treated tumors even when they are not on any other therapy."
In order to further boost this immune response, Dr. Williams is currently working on injecting the ablated tumor with interleukins, proteins that help stimulate immune responses, or interferon, a family of proteins that protect against pathogens or that play a role in the regulation of the immune system. "Once you kill the tumor, the blood flow stops, which allows the injected medications to remain within the tumor for a longer period of time," he stated. "The high local concentration of these immune-stimulating drugs within the dead tumor intensifies the anti-tumor immune response. In addition, the ablation will have broken down the cell membranes, which helps expose the dead tumor and drugs to the immune system, boosting formation of antibodies."
"This is essentially creating a tumor vaccine within the patient's own body," continued Dr. Williams. "Since the drugs are directly injected into the dead tumor, lower doses are used, further reducing any adverse reaction from the medications."
Dr. Williams has treated several patients with the new ablation technique. "It is still early yet, but we are hopeful that we will see a good response," he said. "I think that with continued research and the development of additional immune-stimulating drugs, this therapy will show great promise in the fight against cancer."
About American Cancer Ablation Center and Precision Imaging
Located in Gulf Shores, Alabama, American Cancer Ablation Center and Precision Imaging was the first center to specialize in the minimally invasive treatment of cancer. The center offers advanced imaging techniques, which include an Open 3T MRI, a low-dose 64-Slice CT scanner, ultrasound, and real time x-ray (fluoroscopy). Jason Williams, MD, a board certified radiologist with extensive training in image guided procedures, founded the first outpatient ablation center in 2003 and founded the American Cancer Ablation Center in August 2004. Dr. Williams is extensively involved in research and development of new image-guided technologies for cancer.
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SOURCE American Cancer Ablation Center and Precision Imaging