80% Survival Rate at Mayo Clinic

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    Everyone with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (Klatskin) should realize that there may be a cure for them. They call it Neoadjuvant chemo/radiation followed by Liver Transplant. Do not accept dire predictions from your doctors. Even at Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center the doctors did not even tell Valerie about this treatment. The reason? They don’t do it. You cannot take your doctor’s negative opinion about treatment as being true or even well-informed. My wife died of cholangiocarcinoma earlier this year. We learned about the liver transplant protocol developed by Dr. Steven Rosen at Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN that was having great success. I found it on my own. None of the many doctors who saw valerie mentioned it. For Valerie it was too late when she found it because she had to go through a lengthy pre-transplant protocol (approximately 7 months). Her cancer metastasized before she could get a liver transplant. For others the treatment hopes to achieve an 80% cure rate. Mayo started the program in the 1990’s and published promising results in 2002. Then other Centers strted doing the protocol, notably at the University of Nebraska and at Barnes-Jewish Hospital Sitemann cancer Center in St. Louis, MO under the famous liver surgeon William C. Chapman. Other cancer centers are now doing this procedure. Look up clinical trial identifier at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov and Identifier: NCT00301379. Here is a quote from a leading Mayo Clinic paper published on cholangiocarcinoma that discusses this treatment option:

    Liver transplantation without neoadjuvant therapy should
    be avoided in patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma, with
    long-term patient survival in the range of 28% at 5 years
    and a prohibitively high recurrence rate.38 Results are
    equally disappointing with incidental tumors.39,40
    The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, developed a transplantation
    protocol for patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma
    or cholangiocarcinoma arising in the setting of sclerosing
    cholangitis. The protocol excludes patients with
    intrahepatic peripheral cholangiocarcinoma, metastases, or
    gallbladder involvement. Patients are initially treated with
    preoperative radiation therapy (40.5-45.0 Gy, given as 1.5
    Gy twice daily) and fluorouracil.41 This initial treatment is
    followed by 20- to 30-Gy transcatheter irradiation with
    iridium. Capecitabine is then administered until transplantation.
    Before transplantation, patients undergo a staging
    abdominal exploration. Regional lymph node metastases,
    peritoneal metastases, or locally extensive disease precludes
    At the time of the last published review, 71 patients had
    begun neoadjuvant therapy at the Mayo Clinic since 1993,
    and 38 (54%) had favorable findings at the staging operation
    and subsequent liver transplantation.41 Initially, 40%
    had findings at the staging operation that precluded transplantation.
    With adoption of endoscopic ultrasound-directed
    aspiration of regional hepatic lymph nodes, most
    patients destined to have occult metastatic disease are detected
    before administration of neoadjuvant therapy. Currently,
    less than 15% will have undetected metastatic disease.
    The 5-year actuarial survival rate for all patients who
    begin neoadjuvant therapy is 58%, and the 5-year survival
    rate after transplantation is 82%.41 These results exceed
    those achieved with resection even though all the transplantation
    protocol patients have unresectable cholangiocarcinoma
    or cholangiocarcinoma arising in the setting of
    primary sclerosing cholangitis. These results are also comparable
    to those achieved for patients with chronic liver
    disease undergoing transplantation for other indications.
    Hilar cholangiocarcinoma, once a contraindication for transplantation,
    has emerged as an indication for liver transplantation
    when combined with effective preoperative therapy.”

    The paper is entitled: “Treatment Options for Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer” Mayo Clin Proc. 2007;82(5):628-637

    Results are very encouraging if the patient can make it to transplant without metastasis. I will post another note on how to destroy Kaltskin tumors without surgery (Y-90 microspheres used in a 2 hour outpatient procedure destroyed Valerie’s Klatskin tumor but the cancer had spread and it was too late). If we knew of that treatment before Valerie started on the liver transplant protocol I think she would have been cured and alive and well. This crushing experience could have been avoided. Northwestern University, Wake Oncology and the University of Utah are using Y-90 microspheres successfully against Kaltskin tumors. Doing that as soon as a patient is diagnosed and then doing the chemo-radiation protocol for a short time and transplanting the liver is the best scenario. The trick is talking the doctors into putting that sequence together.

    If anyone has questions they can contact me privately at 808-753-0290. I am in Hawaii.

    Wayne Parsons

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