Cancer Treatment Unclogs Mike’s Heart


PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Every year, surgeons use balloons and stents to open the arteries of nearly one million Americans. For about ten percent of those patients, the arteries will re-narrow meaning additional procedures. In some cases, doctors are using a small dose of a common cancer treatment to keep those arteries clear.

For 22 years, Mike Browning has selected the music, checked the equipment and prepared a weekly sermon, which he runs by his wife of 47 years, Mikie. This long-term lay pastor always thought his post at the Christian Assembly Church would last just a few months.

“I’ve been here ever since,” Mike told Ivanhoe.

But five years ago, even simple building maintenance became tough.

Mike detailed, “When I was doing things actively, I would end up getting short of breath.”

Mikie said, “By the time he came back in he was (panting, panting) and he had to sit down for ten to 15 minutes just to get his body settled.”

Mike had clogged heart arteries.

“They did several stents before they finally actually went through and did bypass surgery,” said Mike.

Earlier this year, Mike learned his arteries were closing again and more surgery wasn’t an option. But doctors had a new therapy to try called intravascular brachytherapy, IVBT. During the procedure, a cardiologist reopened the blockage, and a radiation oncologist delivered a precise dose of radiation to prevent cells from overgrowing.

Mark Trombetta, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, explained, “It’s very potent, but it doesn’t penetrate very much. That’s why it’s perfect for these very tiny arteries.” (Read Full Interview)

The IVBT added just a few minutes to the procedure with very little risk and it has given Mike a new lease on life.

Mike said “I’m not ready to go.”

For the past ten years, cardiologists have used drug-eluting stents that have prevented most of the regrowth. But again, for a small percentage of patients, those stents haven’t worked. Doctors say studies show that the IVBT prevents re-stenosis in about 75 percent of these cases.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.



TOPIC:       Cancer Treatment Unclogs Mike’s Heart

REPORT:   MB #4216


BACKGROUND: Stenosis is term used by doctors to describe an artery that has become clogged due to fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances known as plaque. Restenosis is the term used when an artery that has been unclogged before becomes blocked again, or re-blocked. Most of restenosis cases occur when a patient is treated with a balloon to move the plaque aside, but no stent is implanted. Without the stent, the artery has chances of becoming blocked again. But, even with a stent implant, there is still a possibility that the artery will be clogged once more. Every year, one million Americans go through this process of getting a stent implanted. For patients going through a heart attack, this procedure can save their lives; but 10 to 20 percent of them will still suffer from restenosis.
(Source: &

TREATMENTS: The treatments for restenosis will depend on the symptoms of the patient and if they have received a stent implant before. Most of the treatments consist of:

  • Placement and expansion of the stent
  • Drug Eluting Stent (DES)
  • Brachytherapy
  • Drug-coated balloon
  • Supplementary Medications
  • Bypass surgery
  • Percutaneous Techniques
  • Retrograde Approach


IVBT: Most patients that suffer from restenosis also suffer from reoccurrence after being treated with different treatments. Intravascular brachytherapy, also known as IVBT, is a new treatment that diminishes the percentage of the reoccurrence. The procedure works by delivering a small dose of radiation to the exact location where the artery has re-narrowed. During the procedure, a cardiologist reopens the blockage and a radiation oncologist delivers the precise dose of radiation to prevent the cells from over-growing. When the treatment is complete, the catheter that was used in the procedure to deliver the radiation is removed, leaving no residue behind in the body. Most patients are able to go home the day after the procedure. There has been a 50% reduction in restenosis following the use of IVBT.
(Source: & Dr. Mark Trombetta)


Stephanie Waite


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Mark Trombetta, M.D.

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