What are isolated limb infusion treatments?
Isolated limb fusion is a form of regional cancer therapy. Doctors use this treatment method to treat one limb of the body when there are too many tumors to remove surgically, or when removal of all the tumors would require an amputation. The most common tumor treated with isolated limb infusion is melanoma.
Why would my doctor recommend a limb infusion treatment for me?
Melanoma cancer cells can grow to form nodules between the original site of the tumor and the lymph nodes. If your doctor is recommending limb infusion treatment, it may be that he or she thinks that your tumors are too large, or there are too many of them to remove surgically and save the limb. Regional infusion treatments may provide treatment for these tumors while preserving the limb.
What should I expect from a limb infusion treatment?
Isolated limb infusion treatments work by washing the limb, or extremity, with a high-dose of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy is medicine specially designed to kill these tumors.
Your doctors will isolate the arterial blood flow to the limb using catheters and tight bandages—essentially blocking it off from the rest of the body—in order to protect the body from the high-dose of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy will circulate through the limb, and try to destroy the tumors.
Will I be awake for either of these procedures?
No, patients are under general anesthesia for these procedures.
What should I expect from the recovery period?
You will stay in hospital five to seven days for monitoring, mainly for observation. Your doctors and nurses will want to watch for:
- Skin problems: In the case of skin issues, wound care specialists will help care for the affected limb.
- Swelling: When patients experience swelling, either from the cancer, or from the treatment, Washington Cancer Institute offers experienced lymphedema therapists who can help manage the swelling.
For information or appointments, please call 202-877-3295.
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