May Is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Mercy Offers Latest Treatments For Melanoma Including Isolated Limb Infusion (ILI)

May 2, 2014
Dr Vadim Gushchin

Surgical oncologist Dr. Vadim Gushchin prefers ILI (Isolated Limb Infusion) to treat certain cases of advanced melanoma.

May is national Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a time to improve one’s education about skin cancers. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there are well over 1 million unreported cases of non-melanoma (basal cell or squamous cell) cancers annually in the U.S.

Despite these numbers,  research and public awareness campaigns are promoting prevention and early detection of skin cancer. Staying informed with the latest news on prevention and screening are important steps in reducing your risk of developing skin cancer. And, should a diagnosis occur, access to current, in-depth treatment information can help you find the best care.

For example, at Mercy Medical Center, eligible melanoma patients can receive Isolated limb infusion (ILI), a procedure used to deliver anticancer drugs directly to an arm or leg but not to the rest of the body. The flow of blood to and from the limb is temporarily stopped with a tourniquet (a tight band around the limb). This allows for large doses of chemotherapy medications to be administered without poisoning the rest of the body.

Catheters (small, flexible tubes) attached to a pump are put into an artery and a vein in the limb so that blood can be circulated through the pump into the limb. High doses of anticancer drugs are then injected into the catheters.

The procedure is used to control advanced melanoma or soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity.

According to Mercy surgical oncologist Dr. Vadim Gushchin, ILI is preferred to other methods of treatment because it helps avoid amputation of the cancerous arm or leg. There is no other effective chemotherapy that can prevent this tumor from growing. Without treatment it will eventually become large, non-healing wounds with bleeding craters and repeated infections.

Dr. Gushchin, who is Director of Gastrointestinal Oncology at Mercy, notes, “The new idea is to put small catheters into the vessel instead of making incisions. The affected limb is isolated with a tourniquet. A catheter delivers high doses of chemotherapy directly to the limb, targeting the cancer, by isolating the limb. The drug does not enter the systemic circulation, it’s isolated to the limb."

In the past, one of the most effective strategies for treatment involved surgically inserting large catheters in the main vessel of the leg and perfusing high dose chemotherapy using a heart-lung machine. Today, Isolated Limb Infusion, a minimally invasive technique that uses the same principle of regional high dose chemotherapy but through smaller catheters (cardiologists use similar catheters to study vessels of the heart) is the state of the art treatment for patients with locally recurrent melanoma and some other malignances.

The Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy is one of the few oncology centers in the country to offer this sophisticated treatment for patients with advanced melanoma, sarcoma and some other tumors of the extremities.

Tumor shrinkage can be seen in as little as 90-120 days and can be repeated if necessary.


Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: dcollins@mdmercy.com Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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