When cancer cannot be treated by surgery, a non-invasive treatment called Radio Embolisation or SIRT (Selective Internal Radiation Therapy) can be used. SIRT can be used to selectively target non-operable tumours in the liver.
This minimally invasive process is used to manage cancer cells by injecting tiny microspheres of radioactive isotope Yttrium-90 directly into the tumour. By directly delivering targeted doses of radiation to the localised area to the liver artery thorough the groin, there is minimal damage to the surrounding tissue.
When Is This Procedure Conducted?
The aim of the procedure is to slow the growth of cancer. It may be performed alone or in combination with conventional therapies. It is a local therapy, meaning it only treats cancer cells near where it is administered. It is a two-step procedure performed about one week apart.
How Does This Procedure Work?
A small catheter is guided to the blood vessels that supply the liver. The Interventional radiologist will map out the blood vessels of the liver, and may block some of them to ensure the radiation only goes to the tumour. Once this is done a test dose of the specially prepared beads that contain the radiation is given to confirm the radiation stays in the liver and helps work out the radiation dose.
The second procedure is similar to the first where a catheter is guided to the liver arteries and the specially prepared beads that contain the radiation are delivered. When the beads land in the tumour, they emit a form of radiation energy that kills the cancer cells over a short distance around the bead.
An overnight stay is typical.
How Will I Feel After The Procedure?
Symptoms of the treatment are generally fatigue which tends to pass between 7-21 days, depending on the level of treatment.
How Successful Is Radio Embolisation and SIRT?
The success of Radio Embolisation and SIRT depends on the size of the tumour and cancer cells, however it is effective in prolonging the life of a cancer patient.
Summary of Benefits of Radio Embolisation and SIRT.
Radio Embolisation is mainly a palliative and not curative treatment.
Patients can benefit from:
- Increased quality of life
- Longer life
- Minimally invasive procedure so recovery time is very short
- Higher doses of radiation can be delivered to local areas with less surrounding damage
- Fewer side effects
Learn more about the treatment at http://www.sirweb.org/patients/liver-cancer/