HAI Pump Therapy. Why Isn't It Used More?

PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866 Member

I got scan results Wednesday. Things look stable which is always great news for me. I still have two questionable spots in my lung that may or may not be something. I've been on Xeloda and Avastin for the past 2+ years and I'm continuing with that. 

ALWAYS get a second opinion. What was very interesting today was that my Onc, Dr. Kemeny told me she has a 61% 10 year survival rate using the HAI pump therapy! Totally unheard of in the biz. Yet, many oncologists do not even consider HAI treatment as an option. They often say "Only Nancy (Kemeny) can do that".

In Dr. Kemeny's words "it's not rocket science". 

By no means am I saying she can cure anyone or she's the only game in town. All I know is that I have been extremely fortunate to have had her as my Onc from the start. Certain drugs came out at the right time and attitude and luck played an important role (IMO)


  • tanstaafl
    tanstaafl Member Posts: 1,313 Member
    fairly common in 1980s

    HAI was actually fairly common with good insurance in the 1980s and was a big money maker then.  Of course they mostly only had things like 5FU and mitomycin then and the results bought a few months.    Insurance companies probably felt pretty exploited on the cost difference between simple 5FU treatments then and HAI, and put HAI on the hitlist.

    Now, I suspect the effort - reward part is significant.  Insurance is probably a hassle as "nonstandard" or "experimental" for some toxicity liability risk with extra attention to detail required for the high dose FUDR regimen that Kemeny uses.   

    I think oncologists make a lot more money with less effort, going with the flow, pumping Avastin and Erbitux when they can.   Where I live, Avastin and Erbitux have corrupted the oncologists where they look like trained penguins (erbitux?) at the consorted pharma parties, I mean oncology meetings.


  • ron50
    ron50 Member Posts: 1,723 Member
    G'day Phil

               I don't understand the politics of cancer therapy at all. I have always watched your progress with interest. You and your doctors have done a brilliant job of keeping your condition stable and I am very glad to see that continue. I would have thought that there would have been a large enough pool of long time survivors now for some medical agency to do a study on it. I can't speak for America but I know of nothing of the sort happening in Australia. I have read some articles in the past where doctors suggested that instead of trying to achieve the magic and elusive cure for cancer we should be looking for ways to treat cancer as achronic illness so that we can live with cancer. I know only two of us on this forum who had levamisole as a chemo agent. Foxy was stage 4 with liver involvement and I was aggresive stage 3. Between us we have nearly 40 years of survival. Now I can understand why levamisole was banned, it killed people but surely with the ability of modern pharmacists to compound safe drugs , there must be a safe immunomodulator out there that can help to control cancer without killing the patient. Nobody has ever contacted me or to my knowledge Foxy to participate in a study to actually idendify why we are still alive so I remain as always the accidental tourist of cancer...Cheers Ron.

  • mom_2_3
    mom_2_3 Member Posts: 953 Member


    The study to which she is referring can be found at 



    What is interesting to me is that I don't feel like my HAI pump treatment was more expensive than long-term chemotherapy.  The implantation was done during my colon/liver resection so while that surgery was expensive to my insurance company, I would have had the resections, regardless of the HAI.  The chemotherapy I received subsequent to my surgery was 5FU and FUDR which are both considered low-cost chemo regimens.  Probably the most expensive aspect of my treatment since surgery has been the CT scans which were quarterly the first 2 years and then every 4 months for 2 years and then finally to yearly CT scans.  

    Like you, so grateful for Dr. Kemeny and the entire staff at MSK.

    So glad that you had good scan results.

    All the best, 



  • annalexandria
    annalexandria Member Posts: 2,571 Member
    Stable is great news, Phil...


    It is strange how some really effective therapies seem to be ignored based on cost...it's not like chemo infusions are cheap either (think mine were 12k each time and I was doing it every three weeks for months on end, which adds up quick).

  • PhillieG
    PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866 Member
    Thank you all for your replies

    Maybe 30 years ago it was costly but I would imagine that the cost has come way down. I had no trouble getting approved. From what I recall it was a non-issue. I like the penguin joke. I have also benefitted from Avastin and Erbitux. I was actually part of an Associated Press story in 2005 about the high cost of chemo drugs (Avastin) and whether they are worth it. For those who "know me", I went back last September and gave my opinion about the cost to value ratio. I was misquoted in the story as well, I was never "free" of my cancer but I guess it makes a better story.

    Erbitux came out right when I needed it and it worked for me. I do wonder if the cancer industry is so busy developing "new" therapies that they just abandon the older ones even though they certainly appear to have become more effective.

    As far as Dr. Kemeny goes, I obviously think very highly of her but I do know that not everyone who is with her has the same results. A few years back I was very friendly with 4 or 5 other patients. Our schedules often overlapped so we'd hang out and swap chemo horror stories. Then all of a sudden, they all lost their battles within the next 6-9 months. I guess the moral is two-fold.
    1: there's no one size fits all, and 2: if you see me there, don't make friends with me!

    As most of you "old timers" have probably noticed, I'm not on here that often anymore. I check in from time to time but I've been focusing my energies in another forum where my experiences are more relevant. Newbies usually don't want to hear stuff like "I've been on chemo for 12 years (BTW: next week is my 12 year cancerversary)" when they are just starting and are often told they'd only have to do 6 months of it. Just a note, for some people 6 months IS the case. I know it wasn't something I wanted to hear. I remember complaining about doing chemo a few years into this journey and Jana M messaged me and told me "stop complaining, at least you have options". It was a game changer for me. 

    So it sounds like I'm signing off forever...sorry to disappoint but I'm not Cool
    I will still be opinionated and ruffle some feathers* from time to time.

    *Maybe I do know the secret after all