Two Crozer Health Hospitals Now Offering Advanced Interventional Radiology Treatment for Liver Cancer
Delaware County Memorial Hospital now has the capability to perform radioembolization, a minimally invasive procedure that combines embolization and radiation therapy to treat liver cancer. The outpatient procedure is most commonly referred to as Y90, after the radioactive isotope yttrium-90.
The procedure involves an approach to patient care that includes medical oncology, radiation oncology, oncologic surgery, radiology and interventional radiology. It is also available at Crozer-Chester Medical Center as one of several full-service interventional oncology and multidisciplinary hepatobiliary programs.
In addition to liver cancer, the Y90 treatment is particularly helpful in treating other metastatic cancers that go to the liver, such as colorectal or breast cancer. It can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy, which increases the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. The liver is considered the ideal location to perform Y90 because it has two blood supplies. This enables the Y90 to attack the tumor without killing normal liver cells. The procedure is becoming preferred over traditional chemoembolization, which is not as well tolerated by the body and typically requires hospitalization.
Before Y90 is performed, the patient will undergo a procedure to map the location of the hepatic artery and calculate the necessary dose of radiation for the final procedure one to two weeks later.
During the actual procedure, an interventional radiologist places tiny beads filled with yttrium-90 inside the blood vessels that feed a liver tumor. The procedure takes about three hours and is performed under moderate sedation and with a local anesthetic. Follow-up appointments at one and three months after the procedure will determine if further treatment is necessary.
“I have performed this procedure a couple hundred times, but I wanted to offer it in the community that I’m from,” says Michael McGarry, M.D., who brought the procedure to DCMH. “This is a great treatment modality to be able to offer at a well-known and respected community hospital.”
The results of the procedure are promising. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients who received Y90 along with traditional chemotherapy were found to have a 31 percent reduction in tumor progression.
Kurt Muetterties, M.D., who along with Lance Becker, M.D. and Chad Brecher, M.D., has been performing Y90 at Crozer-Chester Medical Center for a few years, describes the Y90 as a valuable and important option for patients. “It has given all of us another option to present to patients in order to approach their cancer,” he says.
Potential patients should talk to their medical team to determine if Y90 is an appropriate treatment for their form of cancer.