According to Dr. Carin Gonsalves at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, "their overall survival is less than 6 months with a one year survival of about 13%."
Now a new therapy, immunoembolization, could improve those odds. Doctors inject an immune system booster directly into the arteries that supply blood to tumors in the liver.
Dr. Gonsalves says the booster blocks blood flow and starves the tumor. "This GM-CSF stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the tumor as foreign and therefore kill it," he explains.
He says the technique is prolonging life expectancy from less than six months without treatment to an average of two years.
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia developed the therapy and is the only hospital in the world offering it. The injection is not a cure. Patients come in once a month for the treatment and must stay overnight for observation. Because of the aggressive nature of this cancer, patients often require treatment for life.