Clinical Trial at NIH for Unresectable Liver Tumors

Patients with liver tumors, including those that have spread from colorectal cancer, can enroll in a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda.

The trial will test the effectiveness of infusing the drug melphalan through the artery that feeds the liver.

Colorectal cancer patients with liver metastases are eligible for the trial if they have already had chemotherapy including irinotecan or oxaliplatin.  Limited cancer outside of the liver is acceptable if the most serious problem is within the liver itself.

Treatment involves placing catheters in both the hepatic artery and hepatic vein.  Melphalan is pumped through the hepatic artery for about  15 to 30 minutes and the liver bathed in the chemo drug (hepatic perfusion). The infusion will be repeated every 3 to 8 weeks up to 4 times.

The trial and its treatment takes place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, just outside of Washington, DC.

There is no cost for care received at the NIH Clinical Center.  Travel expenses and reasonable costs for meals and lodging are also paid to trial participants.

Patients with primary liver cancer, neuroendocrine tumors, or liver metastases that have spread from other gastrointestinal cancers are also eligible for the trial.

For more information, you can contact:

  • Itzhak Avital, MD
  • Principal investigator
  • Phone: 301-402-0083
  • Fax: 301-496-0734

Or make a referral through:

  • Carole Webb, RN
  • Research Nurse
  • Phone: 301-451-6940

More information for patients about the trial is available on the National Cancer Institute website.

NCI-04-C-0273: A Phase II Study of Hepatic Arterial Infusion of Melphalan With Venous Filtration via Peripheral Hepatic Perfusion (PHP) for Unresectable Primary and Metastatic Cancers of the Liver


  1. Donna Carr says

    I have Stage IV colon cancer with mets to liver and lungs. All 8 segments of my liver were covered with lesions when it was discovered. I have gone through Folfox and Folfiri and am currently on Xeloda. I had chemo through an arterial infusion pump that was not successful. And I recently had 2 chemoembolizations. With this brief history, would I possible be a candidate for your trial.

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