Sun City woman fighting cancer with new treatment


by Andrew Michalscheck

Video report by Carey Peña

Posted on May 4, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Updated Friday, May 4 at 3:21 PM

SUN CITY, Ariz. -- A new medical procedure has one Sun City woman confident that she’ll be able to triumph over the same cancer that claimed her sister’s life almost 20 years ago.

Kathy Kukla is the first person to receive radioembolization at Banner Boswell Medical Center.

Kukla’s sister died of liver cancer in 1993, and now Kukla is facing the same fight. Fortunately, through radioembolization Kukla is able to go on enjoying her life.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal. I know this cancer cannot be cured, but it can be managed so I can live a long life,” Kukla said.

Radioembolization implants small resin spheres filled with Yttrium-90 into the arteries supplying the liver tumors with blood. The procedure, also known as Y-90, saves healthy tissue and other parts of the body.

“Cancers which spread to the liver are a varied group and many types respond well to Y-90,” Dr. Gordon Haugland explained.

Dr. Haugland said that while Y-90 is not a substitute for chemotherapy, it does help to control metastatic disease to the liver.

“It’s exciting to be able to present oncologists with another weapon in their arsenal to help patients fight cancer,” he added. 

Since receiving Y-90, Kukla has joined a gym and continued her active lifestyle. 

“Originally, they told me the tumors were too numerous to count. Now there are no new tumors, no new growth, and the measurement of the tumors has decreased.”

Banner Boswell Medical Center isn’t the only facility in the Phoenix area offering the Y-90 treatment. Banner Good Samaritan and Banner Desert also offer the treatment to patients.