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Aurora Cancer Care is first in Wisconsin to perform new Nanoknife therapy technique to treat pancreatic and liver cancers

Treatment method has been shown to double patient survival rates in national studies

January 17, 2017

Milwaukee, Wis. Aurora Cancer Care became the first center in Wisconsin to perform a new treatment method for Pancreatic and Liver Cancers that has been shown to increase survival rates in patients with inoperable or unresectable tumors.

Surgeons at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center completed Wisconsin’s first surgery using the Nanoknife Irreversible Electroporation (IRE) system, a procedure that uses electrical current to destroy cancerous tumors.

The Aurora Cancer Care surgical team, under the direction of Dr. Aaron Chevinsky, director of surgical oncology at Aurora Cancer Care, guided thin needles into the patient’s body and strategically placed them around the tumor under ultrasound guidance.

Millisecond electrical pulses then puncture holes into the tumor, causing the cells to swell and die, while preserving nearby ducts and blood vessels.  After the tumor is destroyed, the body naturally rids itself of the dead cells, leaving only a scar in the area of the previous tumor.

The breakthrough technology has been shown to double the survival rate in locally advanced and traditionally unresectable pancreatic cancers, according to a 2015 study in the Annals of Surgery.

“Aurora Cancer Care treats one in every four cancer patients in Wisconsin, more than any other system, and we pride ourselves on delivering the best treatment options available to patients,” said Aaron Chevinsky, M.D., FACS, MBA, director of surgical oncology at Aurora Cancer Care. “The new Nanoknife technology will be a tremendous asset to our team as we care for patients with traditionally inoperable liver and pancreatic tumors, bringing hope for these patients during challenging times.”

Pancreatic cancer has some of the lowest survival rates among all cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for people in the U.S. with any pancreatic cancer is only 8% overall and 29% for those with cancers localized to the pancreas. Unresectable and inoperable tumors such as those that would be candidates for the Nanoknife procedure are virtually incurable with traditional therapies.

The Nanoknife technology was first introduced in the early 2000s at several leading cancer centers around the county, including The Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla, The Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and Memorial Sloan Cancer Center in New York.

Dr. Chevinsky, who previously introduced the Nanoknife technology to NJ at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, saw the value of bringing this new procedure to Wisconsin. “It’s a tremendous asset to our community and our patients to now be able to deliver this high level of care that only a select number of cancer centers around the nation  can offer,” noted Chevinsky.

The first usage of the new Nanoknife at Aurora Cancer Care occurred in early January, 2017.

To learn more about the cancer treatment options offered at Aurora Cancer Care, visit

About Aurora Health Care

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit health care provider in Wisconsin and northern Illinois and is a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Aurora is the area’s most comprehensive health care provider and the state's largest private employer. Aurora serves more than 1.2 million patients every year via a comprehensive network of facilities, services and providers, including 15 hospitals, more than 150 clinics, 70 pharmacies and 33,000 caregivers. As evidenced by more than 300 active clinical trials, Aurora is dedicated to delivering innovations to provide the best possible care today, and to define the best care for tomorrow. Get helpful health and wellness information via the Aurora MyHealth blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter account and our Pinterest account.

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