New Computerized Pump For Chemotherapy Reduces Side Effects

A portable, computerized pump small enough to fit in a fanny pack is changing the way cancer patients receive their chemotherapy. This technology allows cancer patients to receive their chemotherapy at a time when it will be most effective and least toxic.

According to pioneering chronobiologist Dr. William Hrushesky, a senior clinical investigator at the Dorn VA Medical Center in South Carolina, “this technology allows for larger doses to be delivered more frequently, with higher efficacy and lower toxicity. It’s kinder, gentler and at the same time, more aggressive and effective.”

With this pump, the timing of the infusion is administered based on several factors, including the biological uniqueness of the particular drug being given and the time when the specific type of cancer cells divide.

“This creates a better kill rate for the cancer and less toxicity to the healthy cells, because the healthy cells of the patient are generally at rest when the cancer cells are most active, or dividing,” explained Keith Block, MD, of the Block Center for Integrated Cancer Care. “The infusion of the chemotherapy drug using this pump starts slowly and ratchets up, hour by hour. It slowly increases to the middle point of the cycle, peaks, infuses most of the drug and then slowly ratchets back down, to no drug, where the cycle is completed. We have often found that patients receiving their chemotherapy this way reduce what would have been recurring side effects of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue.”

Studies published in medical journals, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Lancet Oncology, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and Chronobiology International, demonstrate that this ground-breaking technology decreases toxicity and improves survival. This is important because the debilitation caused by chemo can cause patients to reduce or even stop treatments that could otherwise help them win their battle with cancer. Current research shows that up to one third of chemotherapy patients abandon treatments prematurely due to the side effects.

Because this pump is portable, cancer patients no longer have to go to chemo wards and instead participate in normal daily activities such as walking, jogging, cooking, sleeping and even playing with their children, while their treatments are administered.

by Betty Hoeffner

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