Mimi Murphy's Medical Breakthroughs: Beads Battle Liver Cancer

By: Mimi Murphy
By: Mimi Murphy

Chemotherapy can be an effective treatment for cancer patients, but it can leave people asking how well will it work and how bad side effects will be. A new way to treat liver cancer brings positive answers to both those questions.

Marilyn Routh and her husband Tommy were looking forward to retiring and spending time on their ranch.

"We were just all excited, couldn't wait. And, y'know, surprise, surprise, you have the 'big C.' It was like the whole world changed in one sentence," Marilyn said.

The 'big C' was liver cancer. Standard chemotherapy helped but left Marilyn sick in bed. Then she learned of a new treatment called selective internal radiation therapy. Radiologist Robert Cirillo, Jr., M.D., injects microscopic spheres that release radiation directly into the tumor.

"Because these particles are so small, they only get trapped within the tumor, and then you won't cause the side effects that you normally get from chemotherapy because it's only going after the tumor itself and not the patient's normal liver," said Dr. Cirillo, of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Marilyn had flu-like side effects at first.

"After that wore off, I felt Goood. I was ready to take on the world," Marilyn said.

It worked on her cancer, too. Her scans from before and after treatment tell a lot, but not as much as the joy of being with her family.

Marilyn also receives standard chemotherapy to fight cancer in her stomach and esophagus. Wake Forest University is one of six centers doing this treatment in the United States -- and does more than any other center in the world.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Wake Forest University
Baptist Medical Center
Outpatient Radiological Clinic
(877) 276-2888


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