G.I. Cancer Center Y-90 Treatment

An FDA-approved, non-surgical innovative treatment that uses tiny beads called microspheres delivers radiation directly to tumors in the liver. The microspheres are embedded with radioactive element Y-90 and is delivered through the hepatic artery and into the liver’s blood vessels to kill cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue.

Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT)

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver, it is important to learn the facts and evaluate treatment options. Of the nearly 140,000 Americans diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, at least 60 percent will see their cancer spread to the liver.

Who is a candidate for the treatment?

This treatment is indicated for patients with colorectal liver cancer whose liver metastases cannot be surgically removed. The medical team of the Baptist Gastrointestinal Cancer Center (GICC) can help you decide if this treatment is best suited for your condition.

SIR-Spheres® microspheres treatment, offered at Baptist GICC is a targeted radiation therapy that delivers a dose of internal radiation up to 40 times higher than conventional external beam therapy while sparing healthy tissue. This maximizes the treatment’s effectiveness and reduces the risk of injury to the liver.

How are SIR-Spheres microspheres administered?

SIR-Spheres microspheres are administered through a process called Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT). During the procedure, an interventional radiologist makes a small puncture, usually into the femoral artery near the groin. A small flexible tube, known as a catheter is then guided through the artery into the liver and millions of microscopic spheres (about a third of the width of a human hair), are delivered directly into the tumor. The entire procedure takes about 90 minutes. Most patients return home four to six hours following treatment.

How do SIR-Spheres microspheres work?

The SIRT procedure delivers radiation, which is often used to treat cancer, directly into the liver tumors by using the tumor’s own blood supply. Normal liver tissue takes about 90 percent of its blood supply from the veins, while liver tumors receive about 90 percent of their blood supply from arteries. This allows SIR-Spheres microspheres to target the liver tumors with a tumor-killing dose of radiation via the hepatic artery, while sparing surrounding healthy liver tissue.

What are the goals of treatment using SIR-Spheres microspheres?

Clinical trials have shown SIRT increases the time-to-disease progression and overall survival without adversely affecting the patient’s quality of life.3 In clinical studies, SIR-Spheres microspheres have been combined with modern chemotherapy or administered as a monotherapy during chemotherapy and have been proven to:

  • Decrease the tumor burden in the liver
  • Increase time-to-disease progression
  • Increase survival time
  • Potentially downsize tumors to liver resection or ablation
  • Provide palliation of symptoms

What side effects and complications can I expect?

When properly administered, most side effects are typically mild and subside within several days. Post treatment side effects can include abdominal pain and/or nausea which normally subside after a short time and/or with routine medication. Patients may also develop a mild fever that may last up to a week and fatigue which may last for several weeks. As a precaution, we may recommend additional medications with the aim of preventing or minimizing these side effects.

In rare instances there is a possibility that a small number of microspheres may inadvertently reach other organs in the body, such as the gall bladder, stomach, intestine or pancreas. If SIR-Spheres microspheres reach these organs, they may cause inflammation of the gall bladder,stomach, intestine, or ulceration. These complications are rare, but if one of these occurs, they will require additional treatment.

How do SIR-Spheres microspheres work?

The SIRT procedure delivers radiation, which is often used to treat cancer, directly into the liver tumors by using the tumor’s own blood supply. Normal liver tissue takes about 90 percent of its blood supply from the veins, while liver tumors receive about 90 percent of their blood supply from arteries. This allows SIR-Spheres microspheres to target the liver tumors with a tumor-killing dose of radiation via the hepatic artery, while sparing surrounding healthy liver tissue.

How are SIR-Spheres microspheres different from other radiation treatments for cancers of the liver?

SIR-Spheres microspheres usually reduce liver tumors after just one treatment. The targeted nature of this therapy enables doctors to deliver more radiation to the liver tumors than would be possible using conventional radiotherapy. Also, because traditional radiation is delivered to a general area of the body where cancer exists, it is less exact than SIR-Spheres microspheres. Another limitation of conventional radiotherapy is that it can only be applied to certain areas of the body, often not including the liver. SIR-Spheres microspheres, however, are designed specifically for delivery directly to the liver.

Call (210) 297-GICC (4422) for more information