Unique Liver Tumor Treatment Provides Hope for South Side Native

Avery Richardson's story begins in 2009, when doctors told him his colorectal cancer had spread to his liver and gave him 24 months to live. Out of treatment options, he began to get his affairs in order.

But nearly two years later, Avery is newly married to Regina Hendon, and has a new lease on life, thanks to an innovative procedure recommended by Thomas Aquisto, M.D., interventional radiologist at Ingalls.

"My cancer specialist, Dr. Vasia Ahmed, knew of a new liver treatment and referred me to Dr. Aquisto," he explained.

With a reason to hope, Avery made an appointment with Dr. Aquisto, who suggested the South Side native might be a candidate for a relatively new treatment called selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) that targets liver tumors directly.

Ingalls is one of the few cancer programs in Illinois to offer this non-surgical outpatient therapy that uses radioactive Yttrium-90 microspheres to deliver radiation directly to the site of liver tumors.

SIRT spares healthy tissue while delivering up to 40 times more radiation to liver tumors than would be possible with conventional radiation. The technique uses the patient's blood supply to send the tiny spheres, smaller in diameter than a human hair, into the microscopic vessels that feed a cancerous tumor. The spheres eventually become lodged at the tumor sites where they deliver a high dose of radiation, shrinking the tumors and extending the life expectancy of patients with malignant liver tumors.

"Of the nearly 150,000 Americans diagnosed withcolorectal cancer every year, at least 60 percent will see their cancer spread to the liver, and most liver tumors cannot be surgically removed," Dr. Aquisto explains. "Microspheres therapy has emerged as a novel treatment option when most other treatment options have failed."

For Avery, it was the beacon of hope he had been looking for. After two treatments at Ingalls in 2010, his tumors have shrunk and are now under control. When the happy couple was married April 16, Dr. Aquisto and his staff were there to help celebrate this major life moment.

A man of great faith, Avery believes divine intervention led them to Dr. Aquisto.

"When Regina and I met with Dr. Aquisto, he assured us he would do everything he could to make sure that the procedure was a success and leave the rest up to God," he said. "This gave us confidence. I'm more than hopeful about the future."

"I was in dire straits, and it worked for me," Avery added. "It's just amazing."

For more information, call Ingalls Cancer Care at 708.915.HOPE (4673).

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