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Published on September 21, 2016

Starving a Tumor to Treat Liver Cancer

How minimally invasive procedure helped local resident enjoy life again

Dan Snyder teaching jewelry making

Dan Snyder teaching jewelry making.

Abdominal pain had plagued Palos Park resident Dan for weeks when he came to the Palos Hospital Emergency Department. Although he assumed the pain was from a gastrointestinal infection, it had suddenly worsened, and he was concerned. Once at the ED, he underwent a CT (computed tomography) scan of his abdomen, which revealed a suspicious five inch tumor on his liver. The CT scan indicated the tumor had ruptured, revealing internal bleeding—the true source of Dan’s severe pain.

Oak Lawn Gastroenterologist Vincent Muscarello, M.D. quickly realized that Dan’s condition was life-threatening and referred him to Interventional Radiologist Michael Ginsburg, M.D., for an image-guided biopsy and possible treatment. The biopsy indicated that the suspicious mass was, in fact, cancer— Hepatocellular carcinoma to be exact, the most common type of primary liver cancer.

“When I heard liver cancer, I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’ve had a good long life. I can accept this.’” said Dan.

Michael Ginsburg, M.D.

Michael Ginsburg, M.D.

“Given the large size of the tumor, my goal was to perform the embolization to prevent further internal bleeding. But I also realized the potential of killing two birds with one stone-- preventing further bleeding as well as starving the tumor by cutting off its blood supply,” explained Dr. Ginsburg. “We have an active interventional oncology program at Palos with the ability to treat liver cancer using minimally-invasive techniques.”

After the successful procedure, Dan recovered in a rehabilitation facility in order to treat his earlier infection. He also received physical therapy, as the weeks of immobility had caused some of his muscles to weaken. Dan and his doctors were delighted when a follow up CT scan just one month after the procedure found that the tumor had significantly decreased in size and showed no trace of activity.

Around the same time, Dan saw his medical oncologist, Shadi Latta, M.D., in Palos Heights, who determined he would not need to undergo radiation or chemotherapy treatments following the embolization, since the CT results showed no evidence of a viable tumor.

Three months after Dan’s ordeal, he returned to the Interventional Radiology clinic, where his latest MRI found no evidence of liver cancer. Today, he is back to enjoying his hobbies and volunteer activities, including leading tours at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington and serving on the board at The Center in Palos Park where he also teaches silver jewelry making.

“I feel better than I’ve felt in months,” says Dan. “Thanks to the team at Palos, the cancer diagnosis was not a death sentence, and I can continue doing all the things I love to do.”

Find out about the many procedures available through Interventional Radiology at Palos Health. To schedule an appointment with Interventional Radiology, please call 708.923.5106.