Health Beat: Cooking away liver tumors

Health Beat: Cooking away liver tumors

STANFORD, Calif. - Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease. Only six percent of patients will survive five years or longer.

Now, doctors have found a way to help patients when their cancer spreads and options are limited. They are "cooking" away tumors.

As a self-esteem coach, Gwen McCane teaches others about confidence. 

McCane, however, had to follow some of her own advice and stay positive when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an often fatal disease. 

"Not one time did I think I was going to die!" said McCane, who had chemo and radiation, but her cancer spread to her liver.

Then Dr. Gloria Hwang, a interventional radiologist at Stanford Hospital & Clinics, told McCane about a new therapy that could "cook" away her liver tumors.

"Someone actually takes a microwave antenna and sticks it at the end of a needle and sends out waves and allows tissue to cook," said Hwang.

Using imaging to guide them, doctors insert tiny needles into the tumor. The microwave heat, which can reach 112 degrees, destroys the cancer in about 10 minutes. It can treat tumors in the liver, kidneys and lungs.

The treatment worked for McCane. Her liver tumors are gone for now and she can focus on helping others feel as good as she does.

"People always say you don't look 73, but I think this is the way 73 is supposed to look," McCane said.

If McCane's tumors come back, she can receive the ablation treatment again. Patients stay overnight after the procedure. Hwang said nausea from the anesthesia is a common side effect.

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