IDENTIFICATION AND TREATMENT: Traditional methods of viewing and treating the bile duct for cancer involves injecting contrast dye through a catheter. "You are basing your whole judgment on contrast injection, so depending on how well the contrast gets to the area, you can then see if there's something else or not," Michel Kahaleh, director of Pancreatico-Biliary Services at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told Ivanhoe.
Dr. Kahaleh is using a new technique to view and treat this type of cancer that involves using a miniature camera and laser. In the treatment process, called photodynamic therapy (PDT), doctors activate a chemical using light of a specific wavelength, which kills the cancer cells. One study at the University of Virginia found combining PDT with stent therapy doubled survival rates for patients with cancer of the liver bile duct. After five years of treatment, those who received PDT combined with stents survived 16.2 months, whereas those treated with stents alone survived 7.4 months.
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