Liver cancer is one of the top ten causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide and in
the United States. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for 75% of all liver cancer cases, most frequently occurring in patients with chronic liver diseases.
The liver is also a frequent site for metastases originating from colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer.
Depending on the location, severity, and staging of liver cancer, multiple treatment options are currently available, including surgical resection, liver transplantation, ablation techniques (including radiofrequency ablation (RFA), microwave ablation (MWA), high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), cryoablation), chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapies.
Even with all the current treatments available, the 5-year survival rate in the U.S. is only 20%, the second-lowest amongst all cancers.
One noninvasive new sound technology has been developed at the University of Michigan, called histotripsy, which can mechanically destroy target tissues by controlled acoustic cavitation.
For the study, researchers used a rat model in which they were able to break down liver tumors in rats, kill cancer cells and spur the immune system to prevent further spread.
The therapy was able to destroy 50-70% of the liver tumor volume, and by doing so the rats’ immune systems were able to clear away the rest, with no evidence of recurrence or metastases in more than 80% of the animals.
The same treatment is being tested in human liver cancer trials in the United States and Europe.
Tejaswi Worlikar, et al. Impact of Histotripsy on Development of Intrahepatic Metastases in a Rodent Liver Tumor Model. 2022. Cancers. DOI: 10.3390/cancers14071612.