Y90 radioembolization is a minimally invasive procedure that combines embolization and radiation therapy to treat liver cancer. Tiny glass or resin beads filled with the radioactive isotope yttrium Y-90 are placed inside the blood vessels that feed a tumor. This blocks the supply of blood to the cancer cells and delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing normal tissue. It can help extend the lives of patients with inoperable tumors and improve their quality of life.
What types of tumors can be treated?
Radioembolization is used to treat tumors that began in the liver or have spread, or metastasized, to the liver from another part of the body. It is a palliative treatment, which means it does not provide a cure but instead helps slow down the growth of the disease and alleviate symptoms. The procedure is an option for patients who are not candidates for other treatments, including surgery or liver transplantation.
Who performs radioembolization?
Image-guided, minimally invasive procedures such as radioembolization are most often performed by a specially trained interventional radiologist in an interventional radiology suite or occasionally in the operating room.
How is the procedure performed?
Using x-ray imaging and a contrast material to visualize the blood vessels, the interventional radiologist inserts a catheter through the skin into a blood vessel and advances it to the treatment site. The radiation-filled microspheres, or glass beads, are then inserted through the catheter and advanced to the blood vessels supplying the tumor with blood.
Once the microspheres lodge at the tumor site, they deliver a high dosage of radiation directly to the cancer cells. The microspheres will block the flow of blood to the tumor, depriving the diseased cells of the oxygen and nutrients needed to grow.
Treatment Goals & Patient Benefits:
- Extend life
- Increase the time until other treatments are needed
- Shrink tumor size and in some cases allow for removal of tumor
- Improve quality of life
- Give fewer side effects
- Provide symptom relief by surgery
- Slow tumor growth
The above information is not all inclusive of the risks, alternatives and benefits. It is not meant to be a substitute for informed discussion between you and your doctor, but can act as a starting point for such a discussion. There are complications possible with any medical procedure. Overall, minimally invasive procedures have a lower complication rate than open surgeries.