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Radiation Oncology

TheraSphere and SIR-Sphere Microspheres (Sirtex)

The liver is very sensitive to radiation, but traditional external beam radiation - even the most sophisticated conformal beam radiation therapy - isn't optimal for treating cancers in the liver. In cases where cancer cannot be removed by surgery or destroyed with radio frequency ablation (RFA), physicians may recommend that patients receive localized radiation treatment using microscopic particles that have been loaded with radioactive Yttrium-90.

How It Works

The particles are infused into the affected area of the liver using a catheter passed through a small incision in an artery in the groin to an artery in the area of the liver that feeds the tumor(s). The radioactive beads selectively destroy tumors in the liver but leave healthy tissue relatively unaffected. Most patients return home the same day, and treatment is generally well tolerated. A team of physicians will help you decide if this type of treatment is appropriate for your situation.

Two Treatment Options

There are two specialized types of radioactive beads that are used to treat cancer in the liver with high doses of radiation. TheraSphere is used to treat primary liver cancer (a cancer that originated in the liver). SIR-Sphere microspheres (also known by the manufacturer's name, Sirtex) are used to treat metastatic cancer to the liver (most often from colon or rectum cancers).

Both procedures require a team of experts working together to ensure this procedure is appropriate for the patient and proper patient care. Patients should expect to work with an interventional radiologist and radiation oncologist during their TheraSphere or Sirtex treatment.

Learn more about SIR-Sphere microspheres click here.