Marin General Hospital Offers Two New Procedures

One Destroys Tumors of the Kidney, Liver and Lungs; The Other Stops Cancer Growth in a Majority of Patients.

GREENBRAE, CA — Marin General Hospital now offers two new medical procedures that spare patients the need for conventional surgery and a lengthy recovery. One procedure destroys tumors of the kidney, liver and lungs, and the other offers new hope for a majority of patients by stopping the spread of cancer, including those of the lung and brain, without surgery. 

The first procedure, percutaneous cryoablation, is performed by interventional radiologists using a CT scanner for imaging guidance, and is currently being used to treat select tumors of the kidney, liver and lung. A thin probe is inserted into the tumor, and delivers a coolant, cryogen, at subfreezing temperatures to destroy the tumor.

“This minimally invasive technique offers a relatively painless treatment with a short recovery time,” said Dr. Phil Kurzman, an Interventional Radiologist on staff at Marin General Hospital. “Most patients may resume their normal routine activities within a couple of days.”

“This is a safe and effective method for treating patients with select tumors who are not candidates for surgery,” said Louis Manila, RN, Director, Cardiovascular/ Neurovascular Services/Diagnostic Imaging. 

There are many benefits to minimally invasive surgery, including shorter procedure time, less pain and swelling, minimal blood loss and faster recovery. 

Another new procedure, stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), became available to cancer patients earlier this year at the Marin Cancer Institute, a program of Marin General Hospital. MCI is one of two radiation therapy groups, and the only one in Marin, using SBRT to treat certain types of cancers instead of surgery, and has treated a dozen patients this year during 58 radiation therapy sessions. In a nationwide study, the procedure was found to stop lung cancer growth for three years among 98 percent of patients with early non-small cell lung cancer. These patients were unable to have the cancer surgically removed. 

“This procedure gives hope to patients who did not have surgery options due to frail health,” said Dr. Lloyd Miyawaki, Marin Cancer Institute Medical Director and Marin Cancer Institute Radiation Oncologist. “Standard treatment for the past 100 years was radical lung surgery, which can be difficult for patients with underlying conditions, such as heart disease and emphysema. This study confirms that SBRT should now be considered a standard treatment for these early-stage lung cancer patients.”

SBRT, initially used for brain cancer treatment, is a specialized type of external beam radiation therapy that pinpoints high doses of radiation directly on the cancer in a shorter amount of time than traditional treatments. During the national study, lung cancer treatment was delivered in one and a half to two weeks, instead of the typical six to eight weeks.

The national study also showed more than half of the patients lived for three years after diagnosis, while 48 percent survived for three years after cancer treatment with no sign of the disease returning. Despite the high potency treatment, less than 20 percent of extremely frail patients experienced serious decline in their health. 

The study was conducted at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, from May 2004 to Oct. 2006, and was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Advanced Technology Consortium.

MCI typically treats 410 patients each year with radiation therapy, accounting for almost 9,000 therapy sessions.