The typical primary malignancies of the liver are hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma, whereas colorectal liver metastases are the most frequently occurring secondary tumors. In many cases, only palliative treatment is possible. Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) represents a technique that potentially destroys tumor tissue selectively by use of externally induced, locally confined secondary particle irradiation. In 2001 and 2003, BNCT was applied to two patients with colorectal liver metastases in Pavia, Italy. To scrutinize the rationale of BNCT, a clinical pilot study on patients with colorectal liver metastases was carried out at the University of Mainz. The distribution of the 10B carrier (p-borono-phenylalanine) in the liver and its uptake in cancerous and tumor-free tissue were determined, focusing on a potential correlation between the uptake of p-borono-phenylalanine and the biological characteristics of cancerous tissue. Samples were analyzed using quantitative neutron capture radiography of cryosections combined with histological analysis. Methodological aspects of the combination of these techniques and results from four patients enrolled in the study are presented that indicate that the uptake of p-borono-phenylalanine strongly depends on the metabolic activity of cells.

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