In 2016, more than 92,000 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and liver cancer combined, but people with these cancers and other tumors who can’t be treated using traditional methods now have a new treatment option: NanoKnife.
What It Is
NanoKnife is a device that uses a process called irreversible electroporation to cause cells to die. During electroporation, a technique originally used in the lab to see how genes work in cells, an electric field is applied to cells and penetrates and opens up holes in cell membranes, causing cellular damage without damaging the proteins and structures outside the cell.
Why This Treatment is So Effective
NanoKnife is a way of destroying tumors that may be in close proximity to important structures. For example, NanoKnife can be an effective technique for treating areas close to blood vessels that you may not want to treat with radiation therapy. NanoKnife involves the placement of long, thin needles under image guidance to deliver targeted therapy, sending electrical pulses directly into the tumor that cause cancer cells to die while preserving important structures such as ducts, veins and nerves around the treatment site.
Candidates for the Procedure
NanoKnife is approved for treatment of tumors in any soft tissue. People with tumors that cannot be removed surgically or treated with radiation may be candidates. Patients with tumors that have been treated with radiation or surgery may also be candidates for the procedure in order to provide additional treatment. It is important that NanoKnife be used in the right setting, so people who are looking for treatment alternatives should talk to their oncologist about whether the procedure is right for them.
One previous study showed that NanoKnife may double the median survival rate of patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer compared to traditional treatment. In the study, patients had a median overall survival of 24 months, double the survival rate of chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy. Another study of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer also showed increased survivorship.
NanoKnife still is a relatively new treatment. It was pioneered at the University of Louisville and treatment centers including Johns Hopkins and the University of Miami also have made this procedure available to patients. UF Health Cancer Center — Orlando Health is the first surgical center in Central Florida to provide this breakthrough technology.
NanoKnife is FDA- approved for the treatment of prostate cancer and other soft tissue cancers. At UF Health Cancer Center, we are currently making this treatment available to appropriate patients with tumors in the liver and pancreas. This procedure is so groundbreaking because it allows us to treat patients who otherwise wouldn’t have many options. It also opens up possibilities for patients that have already had radiation or whose tumors can’t be removed using traditional surgery.
NanoKnife isn’t yet being used universally because bigger research studies need to be done to learn more about the various applications and overall effectiveness of this procedure. In order to be considered for the treatment, patients’ cases are discussed in a multidisciplinary team conference where all treatment options are discussed after imaging, pathology, and overall treatment history are reviewed. After treatment, the patients’ course, findings, and new imaging studies are reviewed again to assess the efficacy of the treatment. We are pleased with the results so far that NanoKnife has been effective at treating patients at our center.
If you would like to learn more about NanoKnife, please talk to your oncologist or request an appointment by calling 321-841-1869 or by filling out this form.
Would you like to learn more about NanoKnife?
Patients with pancreatic cancer, liver cancer or other tumors not safely treatable by traditional methods now have a new option in Central Florida — the NanoKnife. UF Health Cancer Center — Orlando Health is the first surgical center in Central Florida to provide this leading edge technology that destroys soft-tissue tumors, including those that have spread to the liver, pancreas, kidneys and lungs.