What is Y-90 radioembolization? Think of it as a type of radiation therapy conducted from inside the body. It’s a minimally invasive procedure used to treat patients with advanced primary or metastatic liver cancer.
Y-90 radioembolization can shrink tumors and kill cancerous tissue. It is often recommended when radiofrequency thermal ablation or chemoembolization are not appropriate, such as if the liver tumors are large, or if liver function is compromised, such as when cirrhosis of the liver is also present. Y-90 embolization is also an excellent alternative for patients for whom traditional, open surgery may be too risky.
The primary benefit of Y-90 radioembolization is that this highly targeted interventional oncology treatment delivers high doses of radiation directly to a liver tumor from inside the body (via the artery delivering blood to a tumor) – thus, it doesn’t cause unnecessary damage to nearby healthy tissue.
This type of therapy can dramatically improve the quality of life for a patient with advanced liver cancer.
Traditional Radiation Therapy vs Radioembolization
Y-90 radioembolization is similar to traditional radiation therapy in that both methods use radiation to damage cancer cell DNA so those cells are unable to reproduce and cannot continue grow. Radiation can also kill cancer cells. With both radioembolization and traditional radiation therapy, the tumor itself is not removed, although it may shrink significantly.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
This is what is conventionally known as “radiation therapy,” in which external beams of radiation are delivered through the skin and other bodily tissue to the site of the tumor. Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is the latest iteration of external beam radiation, using more focused radiation in higher doses. It uses imaging guidance and requires 4D CT scans prior to beginning therapy to better target the cancerous tissue and determine how the tumor may move as a patient breathes.
Transarterial Radioembolization (TARE)
This is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure in which a catheter is threaded through an artery in the groin or arm to the cancer site. Only once the catheter is in place is the radiation released, via the release of tiny beads containing radiation. This method offers patients a highly targeted cancer treatment in which the radiation affects an area up to just 1 cm away from where the beads are positioned, helping to spare healthy tissue and organs nearby. When transarterial radioembolization is used with the radioactive isotope yttrium-90 (Y-90), it is called TARE-Y90, or Y-90 radioembolization.
Y-90 Radioembolization: What to Expect
This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. You will be asked to arrive early on the day of your procedure with us so that you can be prepped and ready to go when our team is ready for you. You will be sedated during the procedure and should experience no pain or discomfort.
One of the expert interventional radiologists at Florida Endovascular and Interventional will conduct the Y-90 radioembolization. The doctor will make a small incision in the skin of your groin or arm, insert a catheter, and use real-time imaging to guide the catheter to the artery supplying the tumor.
Once the catheter is in place, the doctor will inject tiny radioactive beads through the catheter and into the artery – which is almost always the hepatic artery and its branches – feeding the tumor. The beads contain yttrium-90 (Y-90), which delivers high-energy radiation to an area less than ½” (1 cm) from where the beads are deposited. After the beads are in place, the catheter is removed, and the incision closed. You will then be taken to a recovery area where you will be monitored before being released.
The amount of radiation emitted by the beads gradually declines over the course of a few weeks. By 1 month following the procedure, the beads should no longer contain any radiation at all and can safely remain in the liver without causing the body any harm.
Y-90 Radioembolization in South Florida
If you have advanced primary or metastatic liver cancer, your doctor my recommend a Y-90 radioembolization procedure. This form of radiation therapy can significantly shrink a liver tumor and kill cancerous liver tissue. Best of all, the radiation is delivered by catheter threaded to the artery supplying blood to the tumor – which makes for one of the most precise methods of administering tumor-killing drugs while preserving as much of the healthy surrounding tissue as possible.
Would you like to know more about the numerous interventional oncology procedures we perform at Florida Endovascular and Interventional, including Y-90 radioembolization? Call us at (786) 534-2555 or request an appointment now. We have four locations in South Florida, so there’s bound to be a Florida Endovascular and Interventional office near you.