Aerosol chemotherapy offers cancer patients new hope

Aerosol chemotherapy - Sunday Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, 3AW, Seven News

Epworth Richmond is trialling a new form of spray-on chemotherapy giving fresh hope to cancer patients.

The therapy administers cancer-fighting drugs directly to the tumour site using an aerosol spray instead of being injected into the bloodstream.

It slows down cancer growth and could even shrink tumours and there are also far fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.

Epworth HealthCare surgeon Associate Professor Craig Lynch the therapy produces less side effects and can slow down cancer growth.

"The reason it works is because it’s aerosol. It’s like spraying an air freshener into a room — it all goes all over the room," Dr Lynch said.

"Because it goes in under pressure it soaks into the ¬tumour nodule and that’s why it has a significant effect."

The treatment, called Pressurised Intraperitoneal Aerosol Chemotherapy, was developed in Germany and used in hospitals across Europe and the UK.

The Epworth trial - funded through the Epworth Medical Foundation — involved patients with peritoneal cancer from bowel cancer who had not responded to traditional chemotherapy.

Participants received three rounds of aerosol chemotherapy, which was administered during laparoscopic surgery under anaesthetic six weeks apart.

Assoc Prof Lynch said aerosol chemotherapy was most relevant for gastric and colo¬rectal tumours - and stressed that it was a palliative treatment and not a cure for peritoneal cancer.

It provided another option for patients with fewer side effects than intravenous chemotherapy which often led to nausea, vomiting and hair loss. 

Because we give it laparoscopically, we are giving it directly to the tumour and it’s having a local effect as opposed to giving it intravenously, which affects the whole body and makes people sicker,” Assoc Prof Lynch said.

It was also possible the aerosol treatment could shrink tumours, allowing surgery to reduce the burden of cancer disease and extend life.


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