The medical community is very hopeful that they have found a cure for a somewhat rare form of cancer known as ocular melanoma (OM). OM affects thousands of people annually and has no official treatment strategy as of yet.
The new treatment for OM being used by a few surgeons across the USA is called percutaneous hepatic perfusion (PHP). This particular surgical procedure involves the liver, since in a majority of OM cases the cancer actually metastasizes to the liver.
Surgeons first block off the liver from the rest of the body. Then they pump the liver with chemotherapy through a catheter. This whole procedure is not very long. On average, this part of the surgery lasts 30 minutes. During this phase of treatment surgeons also attach a balloon to the liver to prevent any outflow of blood or other liquids.
All of the blood that is filled with chemotherapy is later filtered out of the body. New healthy blood is filtered in via another catheter attached to the patient's neck.
People can go for as many procedures as they can endure. Doctors monitor a patient's tolerance and improvement from the PHP procedures over time. Based on the patient's results, a doctor can suggest more or less PHP treatments. Some people have gone through as many as six procedures within a relatively short span of time.
For those who are not aware, OM is a very aggressive cancer that spreads between the iris, the ciliary body, and the choroid areas of the eye. Doctors do not know the exact cause of OM, but their research has found that exposure to ultraviolet rays only increases the odds of developing OM. About 50 percent of people who have OM experience some form of metastases to another organ in the body, such as the liver. If the cancer does not metastasize at all from the eye, then the prognosis for an OM patient is actually good.
PHP has been shown to reduce tumors dramatically for some OM patients, but there have been no official peer-reviewed clinical trials of PHP yet. Many doctors and surgeons who are now using this procedure are hopeful that it will serve as a breakthrough in OM treatment. Currently, PHP is only carried out on a few patients in a few specific areas. Further testing and research is necessary to make this procedure more mainstream.