This ultrasound therapy could stop liver cancer spread

Credit: Marcin Szczepanski, Michigan Engineering

Scientists from the University of Michigan found that a noninvasive sound technology can break down liver tumors, kill cancer cells and spur the immune system to prevent further spread.

By destroying only 50% to 75% of liver tumor volume, the immune systems were able to clear away the rest, with no evidence of recurrence or metastases.

The research is published in Cancers and was conducted by Zhen Xu et al.

The treatment, called histotripsy, noninvasively focuses ultrasound waves to mechanically destroy target tissue with millimeter precision.

The relatively new technique is currently being used in a human liver cancer trial in the United States and Europe.

In many clinical situations, the entirety of a cancerous tumor cannot be targeted directly in treatments for reasons that include the mass’ size, location or stage.

In the study, the team targeted only a portion of each mass, leaving behind a viable intact tumor. It also allowed the team to show the approach’s effectiveness under less than optimal conditions.

Liver cancer ranks among the top 10 causes of cancer related deaths worldwide and in the U.S.

Even with multiple treatment options, the prognosis remains poor with five-year survival rates less than 18% in the U.S.

The high prevalence of tumor recurrence and metastasis after initial treatment highlights the clinical need for improving outcomes of liver cancer.

Where a typical ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the body’s interior, the  researchers have pioneered the use of those waves for treatment.

And their technique works without the harmful side effects of current approaches such as radiation and chemotherapy.

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If you care about liver health, please read studies about hormone therapy that may reduce common liver disease, and a high-protein diet may help prevent fatty liver.

For more information about liver disease, please see recent studies that this green diet may strongly lower non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and results showing how to reverse type 2 diabetes and deadly liver disease.

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