Debbie’s mesothelioma tumor shrinks!

23 Jun 2008 by under News

debbie and dr vogl 150x150 Debbies mesothelioma tumor shrinks!In April I shared a web site, Mesothelioma and Me, by UK resident Debbie Brewer, who was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma. The site is Debbie’s personal journal about her experiences as she battles mesothelioma, as well as shares stories about her family and daily life.

Some of you who are following Debbie on her journal have already heard the good news – on June 20, she learned that her tumor (which she wittily nicknamed Theo) has shrunk by 10 percent after the first of three scheduled chemoembolization treatments. She had her first treatment May 20, and the second June 20, when she learned Theo had gotten smaller.

According to, chemoembolization is a combination of chemotherapy and a procedure called embolization to treat cancer, most often of the liver. According to the web site, catheter embolization is the deliberate introduction of foreign (“embolic”) material such as gelatin sponge or metal coils to stop bleeding or cut off blood flowing to a tumor or arteriovenous malformation.

Debbie traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, to have the procedure, which is still a trial, done by Dr. Thomas J. Vogl, Chairman, Department of Radiology, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology – University Hospital, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, University of Frankfurt am Main.

In this procedure, Dr. Vogl catheterizes the tumor and administers localized chemotherapy directly into the arteries feeding the tumor. Once the chemotherapy has been administered, other agents can be administered to block off the blood supply to the tumor.

Debbie’s description of the procedure is a little more colorful:

“A small incision will be made to expose the artery that feeds the tumour which is in the femour. A catheter is inserted and pushed up into the area affected. Embolization is a glue like substance which is put in to seal off the tumour and the chemo is then added and the whole area sealed off. The chemo is left to do its job. It is something like having a room with 2 doors, sealing off the back door and throwing in an explosive and sealing up the front door.”

One of the strangest things? The clinic where Debbie visits Dr. Vogl for these treatments is located on a street of the same name as her tumor’s nickname! Theodore Stern Kia 7. Visit Debbie’s blog to read all about her experiences with Dr. Vogl and this treatment. She even has photos of herself at the clinic.

Debbie points out that chemoembolization is not a cure for mesothelioma, but is thought to slow the growth of the tumor or reduce it, allowing the patient a longer life.

In conjunction with or following this treatment, Debbie will undergo a dendritic cell vaccine. According to the web site, dendritic cells – a part of the body’s immune system that detects foreign proteins in the body – can be used as vaccines by mixing them with genetic material from the patient’s tumour and infusing the treated cells back into the patient. The dendritic cells present the tumour antigens to the body’s white blood cells (T lymphocytes) for destruction.

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