Blindsiding Eye Cancer

FRESNO, Calif.

You could call 54-year-old Marilyn Nakama's eye patch a badge of courage. For the last several months, she's been fighting adenoid cystic carcinoma -- a tumor growing deep inside her eye socket.

Instead of cutting open the skull to remove these tumors, David T. Tse, M.D., F.A.C.S., an ophthalmic plastic and orbital surgeon at the University of Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, pioneered a new treatment.

Using a catheter, he infused a high dose of chemotherapy into the artery that was feeding the tumor -- much more than what could be delivered through the veins.

"By putting a catheter into the artery that supplies the blood to the lacrimal gland, we could perfuse high concentrations of chemotherapy that the concentration normally would be lethal to the patient," Dr. Tse told Action News.

The procedure shrunk the tumor -- making surgery to remove all cancer cells more effective.

Though Nakama lost her eye, she still feels lucky.

"I had an MRI about two weeks ago, and they said I was cancer-free, so that's really, really good news," Nakama told Action News.

Steve Downey was the first to undergo Dr. Tse's experimental cancer procedure.

"Short-term and long-term, he saved my life, I guess you could say," Downey told Action News.

Downey now wears a removable prosthesis matched to his eye and skin color, and he never forgets what could have been. A grateful patient looking forward to a long, cancer-free future.

Dr. Tse's research is continuing, and he hopes, one day, he can eliminate this eye cancer without surgically removing the eye. Less than half a dozen centers in the United States perform the innovative treatment for this particular eye cancer. Patients have come from all over the world to undergo the procedure at the University of Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Omar Montejo, Media Relations
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Miami, FL
(305) 243-5654
Omontejo@med.miami.edu

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